Disney’s second animated feature finally gets the two-disc treatment with a wealth of extras (see below) and a gorgeous remastering to celebrate seventy years of the puppet who wanted to be a real boy. If you’ve never seen Pinocchio then you might just want to look at the star rating as I will be making explicit references to angels, donkeys and whales. Having said that, if you haven’t seen Pinocchio then waste no time, go and it buy now!
I suppose my opening gambit has rather given away my feelings for this masterpiece but those of you familiar with it will be nodding in agreement – there’s just no reason not to have this in your collection. It’s such a perfect movie (animated or not) that it’s hard to be objective about it, but I’ll give it a go nonetheless.
For a film that it is known primarily for a boy whose nose grows longer when he lies, it’s odd that it only happens in one scene in the entire film. A scene that barely lasts a minute- testament to the genius of the animators who created a moment so visceral, so utterly real and yet fantastical that they made one scene linger in our cultural memory so long.
Of course, that’s small beans compared to some of the stuff these pen and ink guys deliver elsewhere in the film. From the European evocation of Gepetto’s home to the watery set pieces featuring Monstro (a huge effin’ whale who doesn’t mind what enters his gob) to the levity of the musical pieces such as I’ve Got No Strings, the animators’ attention to detail and character is sublime.
Countering the levity of the songs and the ‘cute’ factor of Cleo (a goldfish who likes a bit too much lippy and appears to flirt with everyone regardless of species) and Figaro (the spoilt moggy who also eyes up Cleo but in a very different way) are the more adult, and sometimes horrific scenes. Most notably they take place in Pleasure Island where young boys get to smoke, drink and destroy for one night only before their transformation into donkeys. Pinoch’s new best bud Lampwick turns into one whilst howling “Mamma!” in front of the would-be real boy’s eyes – deeply affecting and still shocking. There’s more where that came from and Pinocchio’s separation from his new parent is deeply saddening as his ‘death’ – still pertinent today.
Disney’s palate here is a wealth of emotions, colourful (not to mention memorable) characters and simple story-telling. Sure, some of you might wonder where the lurveable little guy Jiminy Cricket gets his natty outifts and question just why a goldfish needs so much make-up, but that will only tell you that you have entered into Pinocchio’s world completely as you’ll never query its reality, losing yourself in its style and wonderous visions. Disney, animation and film rarely gets better than this slice of cinematic heaven.
ExtrasTo compliment the perfection of the feature, Disney are kind enough to lavish us with special features for all the family. There are so many extras that I’m afraid we don’t have the time to discuss them all so I’ll just highlight the best from “Backstage Disney” (that’s the stuff for us ‘dults). The commentary is an absolute delight and although its helmed by people who didn’t work on the film, their knowledge and insight is fascinating – as is their enthusiasm. There are the odd bits of archived interviews from the original animators inserted, which is a really nice touch. I feel that commentaries can be sometimes overlooked so I am relieved to see that Disney have put much thought into their production.
On the documentary front, we are treated to a complete history of the production of the film in No Strings Attached: The Making of Pinocchio. Never less than fascinating, this is an essential reference piece for anyone interested in the filmmaking process at all. Also popping up is the live action reference footage which, for this particular geek, was captivating. As is the norm with animation, there aren’t many deleted scenes but they are included here along with the song Honest John – presented in their original storyboard forms.
Filling out the extras are art galleries and publicity over the years for Pinocchio along with some puzzle games and notes during the film. They’ve left nothing out on these discs and by the end you’ll be satiated and entertained no end – though you’ll probably want to stick the main feature on again, so enthusing are the special features. The ultimate in DVD experience, faultless film and exquisite extras.