This was Disney's second full-length animated feature and it may well the greatest of the studio's cartoon classics.
A technical tour de force, PINOCCHIO was brilliantly crafted with an awesome attention to detail and verisimilitude. This film showcased all of Disney's innovative techniques when they were still fresh. The episodic story of the wooden puppet who earns real life by learning to be a good person
was an unusual but inspired choice for adaptation. Emotionally rich, humorous, and periodically terrifying, the film offers images so startling and memorable that generations of children have been enthralled by it.
This timeless story focuses on a wooden puppet that wants nothing more than to be a real boy, a wish echoed by his creator, Geppetto. One night, the Blue Fairy descends from the skies and promises to turn Pinocchio into a flesh-and-blood little boy if he swears to be brave and unselfish and to
learn right from wrong. The Blue Fairy even assigns Pinocchio a conscience, in the form of Jiminy Cricket. This is, of course, the film that features what would become the Disney theme song, "When You Wish upon a Star," sung by the inimitable Cliff Edwards, the voice of Jiminy Cricket. Pinocchio
must undergo many harrowing life lessons before his dream comes true.
PINOCCHIO boasts the first extensive use of the Disney-developed multiplane camera. This allows for a convincing illusion that the animation camera is actually moving in three dimensions through different planes of action in the way a dolly or tracking shot functions in a live action film. The
animators have further refined their animation of human figures which had still been a bit shaky in their first feature, SNOW WHITE. With both FANTASIA and PINOCCHIO in release in 1940, the future must have seemed bright and interesting at the Disney studios. Then came DUMBO, BAMBI, the studio
strike, WWII, and a long stretch of declining success with animated features from which Disney was not able to recover artistically. Some would argue did this recovery finally occured with the release of THE LITTLE MERMAID but this film and BEAUTY AND THE BEAST were, at best, a return to form
rather than new plateaus for the animated feature. See PINOCCHIO again and again. A marvel and a joy to behold, it's the real thing. It's the stuff that dreams--and nightmares--are made of.
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