Some animated films are destined to be classics forever. The majority of titles belonging to that category are produced by Disney and most of them are already considered as such. Few will ever balk at the thought of Snow White or Beauty and the Beast being referred to as some of the Disney greats, but those are just two of a much larger collection. With each year Disney continues to release its classics in new DVD editions and now with the introduction of Blu-ray, Disney has another format to unleash their library on. While we’ve already seen Sleeping Beauty on the format, Disney has opted for its second release in full 1080p high-definition to be the seventy year old classic Pinocchio.
Celebrate the 70th anniversary of Walt Disney’s Pinocchio. The legendary masterpiece that inspired millions to believe in their dreams has reawakened with an all-new, state-of-the-art digital restoration and now, for the first time ever, the richly detailed animation, unforgettable award-winning music (“When You Wish Upon A Star”) and heartwarming adventure-filled story is fully revealed with all-new dazzling bonus features transport you into Pinocchio’s fantastic world. Join Geppetto’s beloved puppet—with Jiminy Cricket as his guide—on a thrilling quest that tests Pinocchio’s bravery, loyalty and honesty, virtues he must learn to become a real boy. The one and only Pinocchio will live on forever in the heart of anyone who has wished upon a star.
My household was never one to collect movies of any sort. Sure we had Star Wars and Indiana Jones, but it wasn’t a massive collection of VHS tapes that we collected. We did, however, build up quite the library of Disney titles through the years (which we eventually sold for some embarrassingly low amount once the DVD releases came out), but the majority of those were all modern releases (I think the farthest we went back was 101 Dalmatians and Peter Pan). Pinocchio was never a film I watched much as a kid, partially because we didn’t own it and also because I just didn’t ever have any desire to watch it again. I never really knew why, but watching it again as an adult I can definitely see why it didn’t shoot to the top of my “must watch” list every time I went to the local library as a kid.
Distilled down, Pinocchio is really just about teaching morality. While watching the film now I was actually quite shocked at the number of things we see Pinocchio do, the very least of which is just run off with strangers with little care. Granted, Pinocchio had just been “born” a day prior so Geppetto didn’t exactly have a lot of time to instill common sense into him, but holy crap. I guess as a kid it’s nothing you really pick up on, but nowadays with all of the stories you hear about kidnappings, the idea of a kid just wandering off is kind of disturbing.
But, that’s really what this film does. Not so much disturb you so much as show you the bad things that will happen if you don’t understand the right and wrongs of the world. Not everyone has a Jiminy Cricket to follow you around and as we see Pinocchio get into mischief including smoking and drinking (this movie is for kids, right?), it’s really the morals he learns is what the film is all about. Again, I think that’s where my disinterest with the film came as a child—I already had parents hammering in my head these things, so to watch an animated film about it seemed…well, boring.
But that’s my younger self, whom we all know is stupid (how many reviews did I dislike in my youth and now end up loving? And the same can be said for some of the crap I did like as well that I later found to be absolute rubbish). Watching it as an adult really brings the film into a whole other light. This is the type of animated film that could never be made in today’s world, and yet the value it teaches kids is timeless. The film doesn’t simply tell you not to avoid the evils of the world, but it actually shows you what happens if you go ahead and engage in them regardless. When you’re young the film may not resonate as it does with you as an adult—it’s all so simple, yet it takes a wooden puppet’s nose elongating to remind us that lying is wrong.
But more than just the films moral grounding is the animation. There were times I was truly astonished by what was laid out before me. Whether it was the fairy who grants Pinocchio life (she looked scarily realistic at times) or the absolutely gorgeous movement of water in the film (how did they get something that is seventy years old to look so good? I just cannot believe that amount of detail was underneath the shoddy VHS print I watched as a kid). Truly, these Disney films are not just classics because of the stories they tell but because of the level of animation that they contain. As animation becomes streamlined (or CGI), it takes going back to the Disney classics to see what absolutely brilliant animation looks like.
Overall Pinocchio is a film that not only teaches but entertains as well. It will always be a Disney classic and the Blu-ray release, which I’ll delve into further, is nothing short of exceptional. Highly Recommended.
What do you think I’m going to say about this release other than that it is absolutely spectacular? The set itself arrives in a double wide Elite case with three discs inside. Two of the discs are the Blu-ray goodies, while the third is a DVD copy of the film (a neat little thing Disney has been doing lately with their animated releases). Also include are the usual Disney inserts as well as the Disney Movie Rewards code that you redeem online.
So how does this seventy year old film look? Not a day over one. The animation looks absolutely brilliant from start to finish and the level of detail included in this AVC encoded 1080p 1.33:1 image is simply remarkable. I wasn’t able to review the Sleeping Beauty Blu-ray, so this is the first I’ve seen of Disney’s attempts at bringing their catalog titles into the HD era and I have to say I am absolutely floored. The whale scenes in particular look fantastic and the detail on the water and environments is some of the strongest I’ve ever seen, modern animation or no.
The audio comes in a English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track that does little else with the seven channels but fill the surrounds with the music from the film. The voices are exclusively (from what I could tell at least) in the center channel only, creating a very mono-sounding track from beginning to end. Even the LFE moments are subdued and there just really isn’t much of a surround effort made for any of this film. 7.1 is a nice addition, but it’s really overkill for Pinocchio, as it is never taken advantage of to the point that it’s genuinely noticeable. Also included is the original Restored Theatrical Soundtrack in DD 1.0.
Extras for this film are heavy. Sadly the majority is the usual toss-away kiddie extras, but there is a wealth of quality extras as well. The disc breakdown is as follows:
• “When You Wish Upon a Star” – Music Video
• Audio Commentary — An all-new audio commentary with Leonard Maltin, Eric Goldberg and J.B. Kaufman.
• Disney Song Selection – Select this option to sing along with favorite songs as the lyrics appear onscreen.
• No Strings Attached: The Making of Pinocchio
• Deleted Scenes
• Alternate Ending
• The Sweat Box
• Geppettos Then And Now
• Live Action Reference Footage
• Pinocchio Art Galleries
• Pinocchio’s Puzzles
Blu-ray Exclusive Bonus Features
• Disney BD-Live Network
o Movie Chat
o Movie Mail
o Disney Movie Rewards Live
• Disney View
• Pinocchio Knows Trivia Challenge
• Pleasure Island Carnival Games
The majority of the extras available exclusively on Blu-ray aren’t really worthwhile, although the “Disney View” bit allows users to fill in the 4×3 image of Pinocchio in with custom art. Kind of interesting, but not something I’m wildly crazy about.
The rest of the extras, including the audio commentary as well as the myriad of behind-the-scenes extras on the second disc that is a mixture of past release as well as some genuinely new material. It’s really about as definitive as you can get in terms of bonus material for this film. While deleted scenes and alternate ending is in storyboard form, just to be able to see “what could have been” even in the most simplest of forms is nothing short of awesome. There’s something about seeing all of this old material resurrected for the home video releases that feels like you’re delving into a treasure chest of sorts.
Overall Pinocchio on Blu-ray does not disappoint. In fact I’d wager to say it’s the first real Must Own Blu-ray of 2009—Disney really impresses, once again, with a brilliant restoration and a veritable treasure trove of extras.
Pinocchio – 2-Disc Platinum Edition is now available on Blu-ray and DVD.