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Pinocchio (70th Anniversary Edition) (1940) Print E-mail
Thursday, 12 March 2009
ImageIn 1940, Disney pioneered animation with "Pinocchio."  While the film is not up to the standards of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" or "Dumbo," "Pinocchio possesses a unique charm.  There is rarely a person out there that hasn't heard of the wooden boy who was transformed by a fairy into a real boy.  "When I Wish Upon A Star" has been remade on several occasions, most notably by Billy Joel.

Disney releases "Pinocchio" in this 70th Anniversary edition, odd as it has only been 69 years since its release.  Oopsy.

Geppetto, Pinoccho, Figaro and Jiminy Cricket are all memorable characters.  Jiminy has been used by Disney in several short story animations as well as in promotional material.  Clips from the film have been used for more than 60 years.

Geppetto is a toymaker that has just finished building a wooden puppet.  He names him Pinocchio and proceeds to sing and dance around with the puppet.  At bedtime, Geppetto wishes that Pinocchio could be a real boy.  When a fairy visits from the heavens, she grants him his wish as Geppetto has done so much for the joy of children.

Jiminy Cricket is a traveler that happens to curl up in Geppetto's house for the night.  The fairy informs Pinocchio that he is not yet a full real boy.  He must prove that he is capable of making ethical decisions before he becomes a real boy.  The fairy appoints Jiminy Pinocchio's conscious.  It doesn't take long for Pinocchio to get into trouble.  He ditches going to school on the first day and opts to follow two foxes to their promise of stardom.

Jiminy tries to make Pinocchio see what is right in front of him.  However, he disregards all the advice and continues to the puppet show.  He stars as the puppet who doesn't need strings.  At first, it seems as though Pinocchio made the right decision, but then the puppet master turns on him and locks him in a bird cage.

The fairy comes to check up on them and Pinocchio lies right through his teeth.  With each lie his nose grows bigger.  The fairy agrees to fix their situation just this once.  However, Pinocchio just doesn't learn and continues to get into trouble.

"Pinocchio" deals with some heavy concepts, more than you would expect with a Disney film.  Disney takes the moral lesson to a whole new level.  They clearly illustrate temptation and adult themes without hesitation.  Today's Disney films are tame in comparison with "Pinocchio" and "Alice in Wonderland."  It is one of the rare things that has actually become less explicate as time has gone by.

I have never particularly cared for "Pinocchio," and seeing it again some 20 years later, has left me with the same feeling.  I can watch the majority of the other Disney films day in and day out, but "Pinocchio" just doesn't make the cut.  The story is just too odd and out of place.
One thing is for sure though, the video quality is absolutely outstanding.  I wasn't expecting much, so I am truly shocked.  Disney has completely restored the film and re-colorized it.  From the very first frame, the textures are incredible.  Every object has clearly defined edges and shadows.  The black levels are impeccable.  After the plethora of digitally animated films that have been recently lately, it is pleasant to see a hand-drawn animated film on Blu-ray.  Details truly shine, there are no two ways about it.  Colors are well saturated.  There is never a glimpse of dirt, dust or blemish.  This is simply a perfect transfer.  The hand-drawn animation offers some real film-like animation experience.  This video transfer truly gives digital animation a run for its money and generates great respect for the animators back in 1939.

On the flip side, the audio has been a lot of attention, but does not succeed as the video quality does.  Disney gives us the original mono soundtrack restored in Dolby Digital 1.0 at 192 kbps.  In addition, the Blu-ray comes with a DTS-HD 7.1 audio mix.  This is where I draw the line.  As an audio professional, I was shocked to see these stats on the Blu-ray disc.  There is absolutely no reason for there to be a 7.1 mix of a 1940 film.  It is a complete marketing gimmick that proceeds to further confusion the mass public on what multichannel surround sound is and what 7.1 surround actually sounds like.  That said, I had to bring out my extra two speakers to take a listen to this 7.1 audio track.  Needless to say, I was not shocked at all.  The DTS-HD track may as well have been in mono.  Sure, there was some bleeding into the surround channels, and the music appears to have been separated using a mid-side decoding technique to create a pseudo wide stereo version of the music.  The dialogue remains in the center channel, as do the majority of the sound effects.  The left center and right center channels on served to stifle the front stereo spread.  There was nothing in this soundtrack that deemed five front channels necessary.  Yes, the audio track does sound wonderful for a 1940 soundtrack.  The dialogue remains brash.  The LFE channel is non-existent as to be expected.  The Dolby Digital soundtrack is horrendous in comparison with the DTS-HD track.  The compression artifacts that appear is just horrible.  Both tracks are a bit brittle.  Aside from the ridiculous inclusion of a 7.1 audio track, the DTS-HD track is very nicely restored.

This Blu-ray release comes with three discs.  The first disc contains the film on Blu-ray along with an audio commentary with Leonard Maltin, Eric Goldberg, and J.B. Kaufman.  This track is available as an audio only track or a picture-in-picture exclusive.  This is a fantastic audio commentary and video track.  It is insightful and makes you appreciate more of what went into the making of this film.  Some of the information in the picture-in-picture track is redundant with the documentary that is also included.  The first disc also includes a trivia track and  a song selection function in which subtitles appear during the film's song sequences.  Lastly, the first disc contains a modern day Disney tweenie remaking a music video for "When I Wish Upon a Star."  Simply hideous.  This disc is also enhanced with BD-Live functionality, contains interactive games, a movie chat function and Disney Movie Rewards.

In a rare occurrence, the second disc in the package is also a Blu-ray disc.  This disc contains the rest of the bonus materials.  First, there is a featurette, "No Strings Attached."  This featurette is a complete making-of the film, with a runtime of nearly one hour.  It is extremely informative and is a definite watch.  Might even be better than the movie.  "Geppettos Then and Now" takes a look at the importance of "Pinocchio" on the history of toys.  "The Sweat Box" takes a look at the animators' presentation room.  In a true shock, the disc also includes a never before seen alternate ending, as well as never before seen deleted scenes.  This is a great collection that should definitely been watched.  Lastly the second disc comes with a photo gallery and theatrical trailers.

The third disc is a standard DVD copy of a film.  This is not to be confused with a Digital Copy for portable players.  This is actually the film in its DVD format for those that have yet to upgrade to a Blu-ray player but wish to future-proof their collection.

"Pinocchio" is not the greatest Disney film by far.  However, it is one of the most important films in animation history.  The Disney team has done a terrific job restoring the video, and the audio is nicely done as well, if not completely overkill and unnecessary.  If you are a fan of animation, Disney or simply want to see the best film restoration thus far on Blu-ray, pick up this disc.

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