Pinocchio is better than I remembered and the last time I saw it was on a gorgeous 35mm print. The blue ray doesn't have the film grain but it really nails the look and color of that print, particularly the transparency of the blue fairy. Such a remarkable film, I was particularly marveling at Figaro, a character that shifts effortlessly from pure cat/kitten into a more anthropomorphized cat and back to 'real' again seamlessly, it is sort of staggering to watch.
The final 'chase' with Monstro finally retains its impressiveness on bluray, that it has in the theatre, where you really feel those wood cut and impressionistic movements of the water, stunning. And the shot of Pinocchio drowned is just devastating.
This was never one of my favorites as a kid, because it scared me too much. Stromboli scared me, Pinocchio turning deathly green and being 'sick' from sucking in cigar smoke scared me (and I have never smoked, ever), and the slaver especially scared me. Monstro was not quite as scary, I think, because it was so exciting, but the other elements depend on the drama having integrity, and emotional resonance to really work, and it certainly did a number on me. Again, quite an achievement to make.
It is fascinating to see how much subdued, thirties style sex humor there is to the film, as well as all the bad behavior, jackasses and other dark elements the story maintains. Thankfully, Pinocchio is not a douchebag (just naive) like he is in the original story (a somewhat tiresome morality play), a decision that Walt made midproduction. I do think it would have been interesting if they had kept his face mostly wooden, like his arms and legs, but oh well. I love the camera work, the long rooftops tracking shot following Pinocchio and Honest John and 'Harpo' as they leave for Stromboli's is especially impressive, as is the opening shot, which starts on a field of stars and then twists and cranks downwards into and through the village to Gepetto's workshop.
Thematically, I'd never noticed before the interesting parallel worked into the film, Jiminy fails just as completely as Pinocchio does, neither are especially good at what they do, and each goes through a similar arc of growth. The difference is in the direction their attitudes take them. Pinocchio gets in trouble for thoughtlessness and being a follower. Jiminy gets in trouble for feeling sorry for himself, getting angry and giving up, he abandons Pinocchio awfully quickly throughout the film, from despair or disgust his emotional reactions are from a darker place than Pinocchio's more innocent failings.
A remarkable achievement, not quite the artistic apex of Disney (that would be Bambi) in the animation, but certainly one of the top three displays of animated artistry the company has put together. The songs are terrific, Disney would do well to remember how the songs here were more incidental and sing song rather than musical numbers, it's a wonderfully effective way of incorporating them more fluidly into the film.
It's a wonderful film for really any audience.
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