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Disney's Platinum Edition DVDs: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs • Beauty and the Beast
The Lion King • Aladdin • Bambi • Cinderella • Lady and the Tramp • The Little Mermaid
Peter Pan • The Jungle Book • 101 Dalmatians • Sleeping Beauty • Pinocchio

Pinocchio: Platinum Edition DVD Review

Pinocchio (1940) movie poster Pinocchio

Theatrical Release: February 9, 1940 / Running Time: 88 Minutes / Rating: G

Directors: Ben Sharpsteen, Hamilton Luske / Writers: Carlo Collodi (story), Ted Sears, Otto Englander, Webb Smith, William Cottrell, Joseph Sabo, Erdman Penner, Aurelius Battaglia (story adaptation)

Voice Cast (uncredited): Dickie Jones (Pinocchio, Alexander), Cliff Edwards (Jiminy Cricket), Christian Rub (Geppetto), Walter Catlett (J. Worthington "Honest John" Foulfellow), Evelyn Venable (The Blue Fairy), Charles Judels (Stromboli, The Coachman), Frankie Darro (Lampwick), Mel Blanc (Figaro, Cleo, Gideon)

Songs: "When You Wish Upon a Star", "Little Wooden Head", "Give a Little Whistle", "Hi-Diddle-Dee-Dee (An Actor's Life for Me)", "I've Got No Strings"

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Page 1: The Movie, Disney's Stunt, Thoughts on Blu-ray
Page 2: Video and Audio, Bonus Features, Menus and Packaging, Closing Thoughts

The efforts of Walt Disney and his animation studio in their initial feature filmmaking ventures comprise one of the most creative and productive runs not just among the company or cinema as a whole but in all of art history. In less than five years, Disney released five films that today are still widely celebrated and considered among the greatest ever made. Short of God creating the universe in six days, the achievement stands up favorably to just about any comparison you can make.

Most of the five have a unique claim to their legacy. Snow White and the Dwarfs was the first of its kind. Fantasia blazed an experimental trail of classical music and cartoon image.
Bambi has its verbal minimalism and ecological awareness. Dumbo is remembered for its evocative emotion. The studio's second film, Pinocchio may have the least tidy distinction to its name, but as a complete film, it exceeds every other Disney work from this era.

Based loosely on Carlo Collodi's 1883 novel, Pinocchio tells the story of an old woodcarver and the marionette he builds which comes to life. The man, Geppetto, puts the finishing touches on his creation (who he names "pine eye" in Italian) and wishes on a star that the puppet could be a real boy. While he sleeps, the Blue Fairy pays a visit and grants the wish provisionally. She appoints our oft-flustered guide Jiminy Cricket as the boy's conscience, who will help him choose right over wrong. When Geppetto awakens to find he essentially has a son, all appears to be right in this undefined European village.

Our guide Jiminy Cricket, the original and unsurpassed comic sidekick, perches upon Pinocchio, still a mouthless puppet. Geppetto is shocked to see his wooden creation has come to life in the night.

But Pinocchio's path to real boyhood is filled with obstacles. In an unusual design that Disney hasn't recreated since, the villains basically outnumber the kind-hearted folks here. While walking to his first day of school, Pinocchio encounters an anthropomorphic fox and cat. Calling himself "Honest John" and doing all the talking, the fox encourages the boy to try a life in theatre, referring him to Stromboli. This puppeteer instantly cashes in on the spectacle of a marionette who needs no strings to walk or talk. The lucrative arrangement soon proves to be unfavorable and an imprisoned Pinocchio needs the Blue Fairy to set him free. In the process, Pinocchio discovers his nose grows each time he stretches the truth. It's a brief moment but it's one that everybody remembers.

Further temptation arises when Honest John and his mute sidekick are enlisted by a twisted Coachman to help round up mischievous boys for a trip to Pleasure Island. There, Pinocchio smokes, drinks, and plays pool with his smart-alecky new best friend Lampwick. Another rescue is needed, this time from a more terrifying fate.

The final act brings Pinocchio and Jiminy to the sea, where Geppetto and his pets have been swallowed whole by Monstro the whale. Just dropping the massive mammal's name causes aquatic creatures to rush away, but eventually a reunion is made. It's followed by an adventurous climax, a close call, and the inevitable resolution to wrap up everything and leave viewers fulfilled.

The first of the movie's many villains, "Honest John" (a.k.a. J. Worthington Foulfellow) interrupts Pinocchio's first school walk, eating his apple and changing his life. The Blue Fairy returns with wand in hand to help Pinocchio out of his predicaments of protruding nose and cage lockdown.

Pinocchio is as wonderful as any film I've encountered from its era or really any era. It is brimming with life, heart, and magic, much of which is more the product of Walt Disney's imaginative story men than it is Collodi's dark fable. There is an obvious moral tone to the story, something that's hard to achieve without feeling artificial or preachy. This movie is far from either as it shows us how easily things can go wrong for someone striving to be good. While viewers won't have to worry about temptations as broad and bold as those Pinocchio faces, the message of actions having consequences never will lose meaning.
Consciences ought to be heeded and one can only hope that a guardian angel as reliable as the Blue Fairy is there to set things straight and correct our follies.

The usual compliments on Disney's artistic achievement again apply here. The music ranks among the studio's best, and definitely among those from Walt's lifetime. Four of the five distinct songs are extremely memorable. Included in that class is "When You Wish Upon a Star", the film-establishing number that doesn't get to accompany a standout scene. It does just fine without one, and this Oscar winner remains the most perfectly succinct way of describing Disney's brand of fantasy. Jiminy's conscience song "Give a Little Whistle", Pinocchio's performance number "I've Got No Strings", the Foulfellow (i.e. Honest John) anthem "Hi-Diddle-Dee-Dee (An Actor's Life for Me)", and even Geppetto's forgotten "Little Wooden Head" ditty all serve to strengthen the film. Perhaps even better than the songs is the instrumental score by Paul J. Smith, which also won an Academy Award.

The animation is quite striking. It is a bit more fluid than Snow White's. Although we don't get the apparent visual ambition of movies like Fantasia and Bambi, there is still so much to admire here. Atmosphere is realized in the warm glow that marks Geppetto's home. Rain, water, and fire convey moods with a blend of realism and cartoon fantasy. The Blue Fairy's sparkly, translucent presence reinforces her magical nature. And little visual witticisms abound, such as in the numerous mechanical clocks of Geppetto's workshop and the carefree boys' startling gradual transformation.

Geppetto's black and white cat Figaro and goldfish Cleo do not share the same level of enthusiasm for their fishbowl kiss goodnight. Donkey-eared Pinocchio asks the fish of the sea where to find Monstro, the whale inside whom his creative father presently resides.

As other films have shown us, pretty images and pleasant sounds are nice but never enough to alone make a masterpiece. Pinocchio impresses me most of all with its story and characterization. There is such a perfect, dynamic symmetry to this movie and its design. Though the plot can play as a basic call to goodness for children (who are challenged more by this than most revered family flicks), it also resonates on deeper levels for older viewers who might consider what it is that makes us human. I won't get carried away, but the movie doubtlessly lends itself to more readings and interpretation than most animated films.

Although the Disney studio cannot be creatively charged with a sophomore slump, Pinocchio's initial reception paled compared to Snow White's triumphs 25 months earlier. Of course, like other animated Disney disappointments, Pinocchio's original financial losses are but a distant memory and surprising fact.
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Over the course of eight American theatrical runs (the most recent, a digitally restored presentation in 1992), the movie deservedly developed the reputation of a bona fide classic.

Pinocchio became the first work from Disney's famous feature animation canon to land on DVD. It did so in October 1999 as the first of nine overpriced, underwhelming Limited Issues that soon amounted to a failed experiment. Within two weeks, the studio announced plans for Gold and Platinum Collections. Pinocchio first joined the former class in a March 2000 repackaging of the recent prior release. That disc was sent to the proverbial Disney vault in January 2002. In 2003, the movie was one of four Disney promoted to the Platinum line, upping the collection of best-selling video titles to fourteen. Since then, fans have been waiting for this classic to get the deluxe DVD treatment it deserved. Every other Limited Issue title received an upgrade; Peter Pan even got two. Pinocchio got a modest Special Edition release in the United Kingdom in 2003.

Finally, Pinocchio has gotten its day, following the ten original titles and two of its three subsequent inductees into Disney animation's most elite home video line as a 2-Disc Platinum Edition which also prematurely commemorates the film's 70th Anniversary. In addition to the standard DVD, Pinocchio follows Sleeping Beauty as the second Platinum title to turn up on Blu-ray.

In a refreshing change from the norm, the movie now opens with the original RKO Radio Pictures logo instead of the old DVD's Buena Vista one that would have replaced it on the 1962 reissue. The 2006-present CG-animated castle logo appears only briefly at the end of the film.

Buy Pinocchio: Platinum Edition DVD from Amazon.com DVD Details

1.33:1 Fullscreen (Original Aspect Ratio)
Dolby Digital 5.1 Disney Enhanced Home Theater Mix (English, French, Spanish), Dolby Mono 1.0 (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, French, Spanish
Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled
Release Date: March 10, 2009
Two single-sided, dual-layered discs (DVD-9s)
Suggested Retail Price: $29.99
Black Keepcase with Side Snaps in an Embossed Holographic Cardboard Slipcover; Also Available on Blu-ray
Disney Checks, Labels, Covers

Since 2004, we've reviewed every one of Disney's Platinum Edition DVDs by release date. We were unable to do the same for Pinocchio because the studio would only send journalists the Blu-ray version that contains Disc 1 of the new DVD, but not Disc 2. With that move, it was clear that Disney wanted the press to talk up Blu-ray, so I did in this uncharacteristic now-condensed article that I wrote to ensure we'd have some Pinocchio coverage before its street date.


As someone who lets only the rarest of days pass without watching a DVD, you might think I'd also be into Blu-ray, the 3-year-old high-definition format. But I don't own a Blu-ray player nor do I plan on buying one anytime in the near future. Why, you ask? Because I'm just fine with DVD.

I understand where Blu-ray is coming from. After a decade of steady growth in revenue, the home video market recently topped off. Movie studios are businesses and therefore designed to always keep profits moving up. But the unfortunate response to the sales slowdown has left me with a sour taste for an industry that's long been near and dear to my heart.

New technologies can't simply be introduced; they have to be sold. And that's what the studios have been doing for the past several years, heavily promoting the Blu-ray format and trying to make it more attractive to customers.
It's my personal nature that the more somebody tries to sell me something, the less I think I really need it. Being told and reminded on a near-daily basis that Blu-ray is the future and the future is now hasn't made me care about it any more.

Now, Blu-ray does offer something -- high-definition picture and "lossless" sound. That is nice and a definite improvement over standard DVD. But picture and sound are just about the last areas I would say DVDs need improving upon. In those rare instances I'm disappointed by a DVD's feature presentation, it's usually because restoration efforts have been minimal, not because 720x480 resolution is a drag. I've seen Blu-ray in action. I've also seen the graphic comparisons online, both the ones that believe your TV will magically grow with Blu-ray and those that present a more accurate same-size A/B test. My TV doesn't fill my wall, nor do I feel it needs to.

I'm not naοve enough to think DVD can't stand to improve. There are things about DVDs that border upon annoying. For instance, you put in a disc and have to wait for it to load. This doesn't take too long on most players, but it adds up. Then, unless you've got a Criterion DVD, you'll have to endure or bypass a number of things: studio logo videos, movie previews, anti-tobacco ads, general Blu-ray promos, and -- the least likely to be skippable -- FBI warnings. Then, depending on what you're looking to watch, it will take several more steps to access it, especially if it's a bonus feature or specific episode or short. The whole process could and should be considerably reduced (I dream of a day when every feature in your collection is at the touch of a few buttons, like accessing a song on an iPod but faster). But Blu-ray actually adds to it, taking as long as two minutes to load your intended video.

Then there is capacity. DVD's ability to hold over 8 GB of data on one dual-layered disc has long been touted and it's the reason why movies over 3 hours long can usually be presented without interruption. But when substantial bonus features are considered, you're almost always looking at multiple discs. In the case of season sets of television series, you're generally going to need 3 to 7 discs. Complete series sets often number up to several dozens of discs. This raises studios' production costs and also requires fussing around with a large number of discs. Neither is a huge problem, but the subject is certainly one to address when unveiling a successor format.

Blu-ray can hold up to 50 GB of data on two layers. But since high-definition video takes up a lot more space, we're left with a capacity quite comparable to DVD. The multi-disc sets continue.

There are some aspects of Blu-ray that are easy to commend. All BD players play DVDs as well, which was pretty much a must for the format to get off the ground.
The packaging is also slightly more compact, which is nice for those whose collections are large enough to make shelf space a constant issue. Picture-in-picture technology might hold promise as a new kind of bonus feature. And we can pretty much stop worrying about widescreen movies being cropped to fill 4:3 televisions (although the opposite is now a genuine concern).

But none of Blu-ray's benefits seem important enough to make me have interest in "going Blu", a fact I've realized as some of my favorite movies of all-time are announced as coming to Blu-ray to my complete apathy.

The industry's aggressive approach to selling the format definitely factors into my weariness. I've dealt with Disney much more than any other studio and they've struck me as the most shameless and gung-ho promoter of the Sony-spearheaded format. Disney spent most of 2007 and 2008 ignoring standard DVD for all but preschool and Disney Channel fare. (No surprise, their home video sales dropped 33% last year.) They've withheld standard bonus features from DVDs to bolster the Blu-ray equivalent's appeal. The company recently dropped in-case chapter inserts but continue to include a booklet advertising Blu-ray in nearly every release (and often an on-disc promo). Smacking of desperation, they've even planned for their Blu-ray editions of Bolt and Bedtime Stories to be available a whopping two days before the standalone DVD debuts. (How will we wait?!) Sending only the Blu-ray combo of Pinocchio to the media is simply the latest, and to me personally, lamest stunt to force Blu-ray upon the people.

There is a very simple reason why Disney and the other movie studios really want you to choose Blu-ray. Because of premium prices, they make an extra 40% or so on every title sold. Blu-rays consistently sell for $7-12 more than the DVD counterparts. And that's supposed to reverse the decline in earnings that the industry has faced.
Charge customers $7-$12 more for higher resolution, a couple of bonus features suppressed from the DVD, and the pitiful promise of "BD-Live interactivity". You're still basically getting a nice-looking and sounding movie on an optical disc that can hold up to 3 hours of content. I'm more excited thinking about what's next.

Furthermore, what is being offered on Blu-ray is pretty underwhelming. Almost all of the available titles are new movies, those that are most likely to look terrific on DVD, and male-oriented action and sci-fi flicks from the past two decades. As the format grows in popularity, that will obviously change. But is there any chance that most of what's been released on DVD will turn up on that format before the "next big thing" -- believed to be inevitable digital distribution -- takes over? I highly doubt it. I don't even expect to see justice for personal favorites mistreated on DVD revisited anytime soon.

Despite all the millions (billions?) that corporations have spent marketing Blu-ray, the format has gained very little acceptance from the general public. You might never guess that from the media's disproportionate coverage of the format. Nearly every leading DVD website now gives precedence to Blu-ray. BD titles regularly rank highly on Amazon.com's techie-skewed bestsellers list.

But in terms of cold hard numbers, the biggest ones state that Blu-ray sales make up about 8-10% of all new home video sales. Since we can reasonably assume that those buying Blu-ray are building up their collections faster than your typical DVD customer, I would estimate that at least 95% of the American public is perfectly content buying standard DVDs.

Those who have made the upgrade to Blu-ray, however, are an extremely vocal and often hostile minority, online at least. I understand they've invested in this high-tech toy and now they want other people to do the same, like they did for DVD (but not for niche laserdisc). But for them, it isn't enough for people to accept Blu-ray's existence, they have to renounce DVD and devote their life to high-definition.

To sum up, I'm entirely fine with Blu-ray co-existing with DVD and even taking over at some point (though I'm far from convinced the latter is inevitable, as certain rose-colored media studies have foreseen) if that's what people want. But I think forcing it upon consumers is wrong. DVD never needed any stunts like this to gain acceptance with the public and it was adopted faster than any other comparable home electronic medium. If Blu-ray is really as special as we're constantly being told, then why stoop to such tactics at the expense of the format that's been good to all for so many years?

Now, about the DVD...

Continue >>

Buy Pinocchio: Platinum Edition from Amazon.com: DVD / Blu-ray / The Book by Carlo Collodi

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Reviewed March 6, 2009 / Revised March 11, 2009.