Friday, December 25, 2009


Pinocchio; Animated fantasy, USA, 1940; D: Ben Sharpsteen, Hamilton Luske, S: Cliff Edwards, Dickie Jones, Christian Rub, Evelyn Venable

One cold night, Jiminy Cricket, a cricket, finds refuge in a house of a woodcarver, Geppeto, who lives there with his cat Figaro and goldfish Cleo. Geppeto made a wooden puppet, Pinocchio, and imagines how great it would be if it came to life. To Cricket's surprise, a fairy shows up and grants life to Pinocchio. But instead of listening to the Cricket and going to school, Pinocchio is double crossed twice by the shady "Honest John" who sells him to performer Stromboli and then to a "coachman" who brings him to the "Pleasure Island" where mean boy get transformed into donkeys. When he sacrifices his life to save Geppeto from the mouth of a giant whale, Pinocchio is turned into a real human by the fairy.

The 2nd feature length animated film by the Walt Disney studio, right after "Snow White", "Pinocchio" is another great film from the animation master that isn't "light years behind Miyazaki", but works fabulously on its own terms. Even after an enormous flow of time, "Pinocchio" still seems fresh today, its issues are still surprisingly relevant, mostly revolving around the shady people who corrupt innocent children like the hero and the symbolic story about integrity where he must, ironically, learn not to be manipulated like a puppet on a string, whereas it's a wonder how not even the animation seems dated because the crispy clear images posses almost a rotoscopic quality, and much more life because they were meticulously made with a caring hand, not with a computer. The animation of the whale seems rather unusual - almost as if it was animated by a completely different crew of animators - yet the sequence where it chases after the protagonists on the sea still has awe. Even though the bad guys in the story are blatantly stereotypical (they look scary, ugly and laugh in a threatening way) and the last 30 minutes seem rather weird, especially the donkey segment, the storyline is wonderfully simple and can be divided into only 4 acts, and the humor is especially charming (the cricket looks at Geppeto's puppet and smiles by commenting how it looks excellent, but then turns and looks right into a wooden "grumpy" face, which causes him to become offended; cat Figaro "kisses" the goldfish in an aquarium through the glass).


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