📽️ Disney Time – Pinocchio

List Item:  Watch The Disney Animated Canon
Progress: 2/57Title: Pinocchio
Year: 1940

So here we are with the second entry in the Disney canon and it is already another stone-cold classic. Upon release, Pinocchio failed at the box office – taking 5 years to break even. This would have come as a very unpleasant surprise to the Disney company after the extreme success of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs – although this was partly because the Second World War denied access to the overseas markets.

Watching these Disney films in chronological order has already started to reap some dividends. For example, it is interesting to see how the animation has already moved on so much in the three years (although some of that might be down to the budget being double of Snow White). When you look at scenes in Geppetto’s toy with all the moving clocks and toys, I can only imagine all the items and knick-knacks that were used for models.

Another things that’s really moved on is the movement of the human characters. Whilst it isn’t as naturalistic as Snow White, the characters move far more fluidly and the humans have thicker outlines and are more cartoony. The exception to this is the Blue Fairy, who could easily have been a character in Snow White visually and so makes her look even more other-worldly when compared to Pinocchio and Jiminy Cricket.

It’s also cool to note just how different a tact Pinocchio takes to storytelling. On the one hand it’s very much a morality play directed at children to direct them to stay on the straight and narrow, not talk to strangers and not visit Pleasure Island… on the other this is so very dark. I mean Snow White delved into darkness on occasion, but that was paired with the original musical comedy theme.

With Pinocchio there are still the very light-hearted moments… but also some of the darkest stuff to ever grace a Disney film. The entire Pleasure Island sequence is disturbing enough because of the whole idea of kidnapped boys being driven to a remote island… but the moment the donkeys start to appear on screen begging for their mother is just something else. It’s like that scene in the beginning of Saving Private Ryan, but instead of dying soldiers crying for their mum it’s boys who are being enslaved as donkeys. Dark stuff, eh?

Watching this as an adult made me think one thing: none of this would have happened if Geppetto had been more prepared to be a father. His desperation for a child helps create Pinocchio, but then by sending him to school straight away (on his own I might add) instead of teaching him some basic rules of morality and how to not end up being kidnapped and sold to an abusive gypsy master puppeteer. Hey ho Geppetto’s determination to find Pinocchio once he goes missing does make up for this.

So, what’s next in the Disney canon? Why, Fantasia of course. I can’t wait.

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