PINOCCHIO Blu-ray Review

     March 10, 2009

Written by Andre Dellamorte

Children’s entertainment has changed so radically over the last hundred years, the idea of keep people infanilized has grown in cinema, and cinema treats most audiences like giant babies. Cinema will give you an R rating now for smoking, if your character is a good guy. Because it’s a bad influence.

Pinocchio is about a wooden puppet that is turned into a half-boy. He’s a puppet with no strings to start, because puppet-maker Geppetto made him, and though he has a pet cat and goldfish, he wants a child of his own. The Blue Fairy grants his wish by giving the Pinocchio puppet life, but on his first day to school, Pinocchio is accosted by Honest John, who sells him to puppetmaster Stromboli, who gets good mileage out of a puppet with no strings. And Pinocchio is okay with doing the act, but doesn’t realize that Stromboli wants to use him up and then destroy him.

But in this instance he’s freed by the Blu Fairy, and he and his conscience Jiminy Cricket are set free. Since Pinocchio doesn’t always know good from bad, the cricket is meant to be his guide, but Jiminy often gets frustrated when the doll won’t listen. It happens again when Honest John suckers Pinocchio into going to Pleasure Island, where young boys are turned into donkeys if they stay long enough. But when Pinocchio escapes he finds that Geppetto has gone with his pets to search for his puppet child, and is now trapped in the belly of a whale.

Holy shit. This is not the sort of thing one associates with modern children’s tales, and the darkness, and torture throughout is strong and potent. And such is why it’s still one of Walt Disney’s strongest works. And the color design matches, this is potent poetry of cartoon animation. I especially love the sequence with the whale. But the great appeal of the film to me is how dark and messed up it is, it’s a morality play, but it’s fascinating like a Grimm’s fairy tale. But in comparison to what Disney has become, it’s an entirely different world, and not just because the animation is so gorgeous.

This is one of the crown jewels of the Disney factory, and now it’s one of the crown jewels of Blu-ray. The Disney version is a three disc set, with the third disc containing the film in Standard definition. The film comes in full frame (1.33:1) and in DTS 7.1 HD, and in the original mono. The restoration is one of those times where superlatives come up short. The first disc comes with a music video, and a sing –a-long sectiona trivia challenge, and a fact track. You can also watch the fill frame film with custom side paneling to fill the frame. It’s like changing curtains. You can also listen to the commentary with Leonard Maltin, Eric Goldberg and J.B. Kaufman as just a commentary or in the cine-explore mode, which also includes interviews and PIP content.

Disc two features two games that are for children, and a making of called “No Strings Attached” (56 min.) which is nice and thorough and gives the makers good credit for their work. This is followed by three storyboarded sequences that were deleted (11 min.), “The Sweatbox” (6 min.) highlights how the gang worked together in a way that would hurry the process. Then there’s Live-Action Reference Footage (10 min.) for the film. Then there’s eight still galleries, three trailers, the deleted song “honest John (3 min.), and a featurette on wood carving (11 min.). More so than Sleeping Beauty, this is a great classic given the royal treatment.

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