Pinocchio (1940)

Where I Watched it: Shudder. (Wouldn’t that be hilarious?). Actually, Disney Plus.

Audio Description Provided By: The Media Access Group

When I was a little one, despite me not being able to remember any of it, my Mom was always taking me to the movies. That’s probably why i have this addiction today. She also felt the need to document everything through photo albums, so anytime I went to the movies, there was some representation of it in the album, almost always the movie ticket, next to a cut out of the advertisement in the paper.

Yes, you young ones. Newspapers used to have a rather sizeable section where the entire page would be different size images/advertisements for what currently was in theatres, with the theatres you could watch them, and their showtimes all in this one graphic. of course, the individual theatres themselves had their own little square, but the companies were paying for these big posters to run in the paper on Fridays. So, those were usually clipped out and put in my album. That’s how I know I saw most of the old Disney classics in theatres during some rerelease period, or even one of those kids only screenings theatres used to do over the summer.

Boy, times have changed.

oddly, I never owned Pinocchio on physical media, so I can’t quite claim myself to be the massive fan of this title like many, though I know I’ve seen it, and I know it’s been more than once. Going through this experience for the first time with audio description actually really helped bring back the images of these characters. Suddenly, someone as inconsequential as Fígaro was popping back in my brain.

The story of an innocent young puppet who has nothing but an endless supply of positivity and how the world constantly looks to corrupt him, is a cautionary tale for children to listen to their parents. It’s a reminder to not talk to strangers, and to do as your told. Let your conscience be your guide? Absolutely.

And the film does this in no uncertain terms, putting Pinocchio consistently in mortal danger, a rather bleak tone for the second Disney release. But, this morality tale needs a beginning, middle, and end. it needs our hero to experience trials and tribulations so that his act of true and genuine heroism feels like the completion of a character arc. While Pinocchio may charm many into believing it is the greatest of the Disney classics, it is hard to discuss which one truly is, as they all seem to want the same thing. To present a spectacle that also rings true with the human condition in one way or another. Even the animal centered Dumbo features some of the most human and relatable characteristics of any of their early animation.

Later on, it really became all about the music. Here, it becomes about engaging kids in a story that might also make them think twice. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons Pinocchio is not among my favorites. While I respect the hell out of its accomplishments, and the animation style for 1940 is tremendous. That whale sequence, for 1940? Are you kidding me? But despite having When you Wish Upon A Star, Give A little whistle, and I’ve Got No Strings, it seems like the rest of the music is useless. Three songs doesn’t impress me much, even if those three, especially When You Wish upon A Star, remain iconic.

Pinocchio gives you many things, but mostly it’s about what you want from it. When you’re little, you see yourself in Pinocchio, and you become invested as if he was you. When you’re an adult, it hits the nostalgia button, reminding you of that time you were a kid, and you thought Pleasure Island looked really fun.

With no strings attached to my desire to pick a certain grade, this just reflects that I respect both the quality it brought upon its initial release, what connection it brings to its young audience, but also my own personal feeling that while this is a classic, it’s not the pinnacle for Disney Animation.

Final Grade: A-

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