Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Supervising Directors|
|Produced by||Walt Disney|
|Based on||The Adventures of Pinocchio|
by Carlo Collodi
|Distributed by||RKO Radio Pictures|
|Box office||$164 million|
Pinocchio is a 1940 American animated musical fantasy adventure film produced by Walt Disney Productions and based on the 1883 Italian children's novel The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi. It was the second animated feature film produced by Disney, made after the first animated success Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937).
The plot involves an old wood-carver named Geppetto who carves a wooden puppet named Pinocchio. The puppet is brought to life by a blue fairy, who informs him that he can become a real boy if he proves himself to be "brave, truthful, and unselfish". Pinocchio's efforts to become a real boy involve encounters with a host of unsavory characters. The key character of Jiminy Cricket does not appear in the original book, though a 100-year "wise, old" cricket does. The cricket warns Pinocchio of his impudence when they meet only to be killed in return shortly after. The film was adapted by several storyboard artists from Collodi's book. The production was supervised by Ben Sharpsteen and Hamilton Luske, and the film's sequences were directed by Norman Ferguson, T. Hee, Wilfred Jackson, Jack Kinney, and Bill Roberts. Pinocchio was a groundbreaking achievement in the area of effects animation, giving realistic movement to vehicles, machinery and natural elements such as rain, lightning, smoke, shadows and water. The film was released to theaters by RKO Radio Pictures on February 7, 1940.
Although it became the first animated feature to win a competitive Academy Award -- winning two for Best Music, Original Score and for Best Music, Original Song for "When You Wish Upon a Star" -- it was initially a box office bomb, mainly due to World War II cutting off the European and Asian markets overseas. It eventually made a profit in its 1945 reissue, and is considered one of the greatest animated films ever made, with a 100% rating on the website Rotten Tomatoes. The film and characters are still prevalent in popular culture, featuring at various Disney parks and in other forms of entertainment. In 1994, Pinocchio was added to the United States National Film Registry for being deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".
Jiminy Cricket explains to the audience that he is going to tell a story of a wish coming true. His story begins in the Italian workshop of a woodworker named Geppetto. Jiminy watches as Geppetto finishes work on a wooden marionette whom he names Pinocchio. Before falling asleep, Geppetto makes a wish on a star that Pinocchio will be a real boy. During the night, a Blue Fairy visits the workshop and brings Pinocchio to life, although he still remains a puppet. She informs him that if he proves himself brave, truthful, and unselfish, he will become a real boy, and assigns Jiminy to be his conscience.
Geppetto is shocked but ecstatic to discover his puppet is alive. The next day, on his way to school, Pinocchio is led astray by Honest John the Fox and his companion, Gideon the Cat, who convinces him to join Stromboli's puppet show, despite Jiminy's objections. Pinocchio becomes Stromboli's star attraction as a marionette who can sing and dance without strings. However, when Pinocchio wants to go home for the night, Stromboli locks him in a birdcage. Jiminy sneaks into Stromboli's cart but is unable to free his friend. The Blue Fairy appears and asks Pinocchio why he was not at school. Jiminy urges Pinocchio to tell the truth, but instead, he starts telling lies, which causes his nose to grow longer and longer. Pinocchio vows to be good from now on, and the Blue Fairy returns his nose to its original form and sets him free while warning him that this will be the last time she can help him.
Across town, Honest John and Gideon meet a coachman who promises to pay them money if they can find naughty little boys for him to take to Pleasure Island. Encountering Pinocchio on his way home, they convince him that he needs to take a vacation there. On the way to Pleasure Island, he befriends Lampwick, a delinquent boy. Without rules or authority to enforce their activity, Pinocchio and the other boys soon engage in smoking Cigars and Cigarettes, gambling, vandalism, and getting drunk, much to Jiminy's dismay. Later, while trying to get home, Jiminy discovers that the island hides a horrible curse: the boys brought to Pleasure Island transform into donkeys for their misbehavior and are sold to slave labor in the salt mine and circus. Jiminy runs back to warn Pinocchio, only to discover that Lampwick has transformed into a donkey. With Jiminy's help, Pinocchio narrowly escapes the island with only donkey ears and a tail.
Upon returning home, Pinocchio and Jiminy find the workshop vacant. They soon get a letter from the Blue Fairy as a dove, stating that Geppetto had ventured out to sea to save Pinocchio from Pleasure Island, but was swallowed by Monstro, a terrible giant whale, and is now living in the belly of the beast. Determined to rescue his father, Pinocchio jumps into the sea accompanied by Jiminy. Pinocchio is soon swallowed by Monstro as well, where he finds Geppetto. Pinocchio devises a scheme to make Monstro sneeze, giving them a chance to escape. The scheme works, but the enraged whale chases them and smashes their raft. Pinocchio pulls Geppetto to safety in a cave before Monstro crashes into it. Geppetto, Figaro, Cleo, and Jiminy are washed up safely on a beach, only to find Pinocchio dead on impact.
Back home, Geppetto, Jiminy, and the pets are inconsolable and mourn the loss of Pinocchio. The Blue Fairy, however, decides that Pinocchio has proven himself brave, truthful, and unselfish; to reward him, she reverses the Pleasure Island curse and turns him into a real human boy, reviving him in the process. Pinocchio awakens, much to everyone's joy when they find out he's now a real boy. As the group celebrates, Jiminy steps outside to thank the Fairy and is rewarded with a solid gold badge that certifies him as an official conscience as the film ends.
In September 1937, during the production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, animator Norman Ferguson brought a translated version of Carlo Collodi's 1883 Italian children's novel The Adventures of Pinocchio to the attention of Walt Disney. After reading the book, "Walt was busting his guts with enthusiasm" as Ferguson later recalled. Disney then commissioned storyboard artist Bianca Majolie to write a new story outline for the book, but after reading it, he felt her outline was too faithful.Pinocchio was intended to be the studio's third feature, after Bambi. However, due to difficulties with Bambi (adapting the story and animating the animals realistically), Disney announced that Bambi would be postponed while Pinocchio would move ahead in production. Ben Sharpsteen was then re-assigned to supervise the production while Jack Kinney was given directional reins.
Unlike Snow White, which was a short story that the writers could expand and experiment with, Pinocchio was based on a novel with a very fixed story. Therefore, the story went through drastic changes before reaching its final incarnation. In the original novel, Pinocchio is a cold, rude, ungrateful, inhuman creature that often repels sympathy and only learns his lessons by means of brutal torture. The writers decided to modernize the character and depict him similar to Edgar Bergen's dummy Charlie McCarthy, but equally as rambunctious as the puppet in the book. The story was still being developed in the early stages of animation.
Early scenes animated by Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston show that Pinocchio's design was exactly like that of a real wooden puppet with a long pointed nose, a peaked cap and bare wooden hands. Disney, however, was not impressed with the work that was being done on the film. He felt that no one could really sympathize with such a character and called for an immediate halt in production.Fred Moore redesigned the character slightly to make him more appealing, but the design still retained a wooden feel. Young and upcoming animator Milt Kahl felt that Thomas, Johnston and Moore were "rather obsessed with the idea of this boy being a wooden puppet" and felt that they should "forget that he was a puppet and get a cute little boy; you can always draw the wooden joints and make him a wooden puppet afterwards". Co-supervising director Hamilton Luske suggested to Kahl that he should demonstrate his beliefs by animating a test sequence. Kahl showed Disney a test scene in which Pinocchio is underwater looking for his father. From this scene, Kahl re-envisioned the character by making him look more like a real boy, with a child's Tyrolean hat and standard cartoon character four-fingered (or three and a thumb) hands with Mickey Mouse-type gloves on them. The only parts of Pinocchio that still looked more or less like a puppet were his arms, legs and his little button wooden nose. Disney embraced Kahl's scene and immediately urged the writers to evolve Pinocchio into a more innocent, naïve, somewhat coy personality that reflected Kahl's design.
However, Disney discovered that the new Pinocchio was too helpless and was far too often led astray by deceiving characters. Therefore, in the summer of 1938, Disney and his story team established the character of the cricket. Originally, the cricket was only a minor character that Pinocchio killed by squashing him with a mallet and that later returned as a ghost. Disney dubbed the cricket "Jiminy", and made him into a character that would try to guide Pinocchio into the right decisions. Once the character was expanded, he was depicted as a realistic cricket with toothed legs and waving antennae, but Disney wanted something more likable. Ward Kimball had spent several months animating two sequences--a soup-eating musical number and a bed-building sequence--in Snow White, which was cut from the film due to pacing reasons. Kimball was about to quit until Disney rewarded him for his work by promoting him to the supervising animator of Jiminy Cricket. Kimball then conjured up the design for Jiminy Cricket, whom he described as a little man with an egg head and no ears. Jiminy "was a cricket because we called him a cricket," Kimball later joked.
Due to the huge success of Snow White, Walt Disney wanted more famous voices for Pinocchio, which marked the first time an animated film had used celebrities as voice actors. He cast popular singer Cliff Edwards, also known as "Ukelele Ike", as Jiminy Cricket. Disney rejected the idea of having an adult play Pinocchio and insisted that the character be voiced by a real child. He cast 11-year-old child actor Dickie Jones, who had previously been in Frank Capra's Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. He also cast Frankie Darro as Lampwick, Walter Catlett as Foulfellow the Fox, Evelyn Venable as the Blue Fairy, Charles Judels as both the villainous Stromboli and the Coachman, and Christian Rub as Geppetto, whose design was even a caricature of Rub.
Another voice actor recruited was Mel Blanc, best remembered for voicing many of the characters in Warner Bros. cartoon shorts. Blanc was hired to perform the voice of Gideon the Cat. However, it was eventually decided that Gideon would be mute, so all of Blanc's recorded dialogue was subsequently deleted except for a solitary hiccup, which was heard three times in the finished film.
Animation on the film began in January 1938, but work on Pinocchio's animation was discontinued as the writers sought to re-work his characterization and the film's narrative structure. However, animation on the film's supporting characters started in April 1938. Animation would not resume again with the revised story until September.
During the production of the film, story artist Joe Grant proposed a character model department, which would be responsible for building three-dimensional clay models of the characters in the film, known as maquettes. These models were then given to the staff to observe how a character should be drawn from any given angle desired by the artists. The model makers also built working models of Geppetto's cuckoo clocks, as well as Stromboli's gypsy wagon and the Coachman's carriage. However, owing to the difficulty animating a realistic moving vehicle, the artists filmed the carriage maquettes on a miniature set using stop motion animation. Then, each frame of the animation was transferred onto animation cels using an early version of a Xerox. The cels were then painted on the back and overlaid on top of background images with the cels of the characters to create the completed shot on the rostrum camera. Like Snow White, live-action footage was shot for Pinocchio with the actors playing the scenes in pantomime, supervised by Luske. Rather than tracing, which would result in stiff unnatural movement, the animators used the footage as a guide for animation by studying human movement and then incorporating some poses into the animation (though slightly exaggerated).
Pinocchio was a groundbreaking achievement in the area of effects animation. In contrast to the character animators who concentrate on the acting of the characters, effects animators create everything that moves other than the characters. This includes vehicles, machinery and natural effects such as rain, lightning, snow, smoke, shadows and water, as well as the fantasy or science-fiction type effects like Fairy Dust. The influential abstract animator Oskar Fischinger, who mainly worked on Fantasia contributed to the effects animation of the Blue Fairy's wand. Effects animator Sandy Strother kept a diary about his year-long animation of the water effects, which included splashes, ripples, bubbles, waves and the illusion of being underwater. To help give depth to the ocean, the animators put more detail into the waves on the water surface in the foreground, and put in less detail as the surface moved further back. After the animation was traced onto cels, the assistant animators would trace it once more with blue and black pencil leads to give the waves a sculptured look. To save time and money, the splashes were kept impressionistic. These techniques enabled Pinocchio to be one of the first animated films to have highly realistic effects animation. Ollie Johnston remarked "I think that's one of the finest things the studio's ever done, as Frank Thomas said, 'The water looks so real a person can drown in it, and they do.'"
The songs in Pinocchio were composed by Leigh Harline with lyrics by Ned Washington. Leigh Harline and Paul J. Smith composed the incidental music score. The soundtrack was first released on February 9, 1940. Jiminy Cricket's song, "When You Wish Upon A Star", became a major hit and is still identified with the film, and later as the theme song of The Walt Disney Company itself. The soundtrack won an Academy Award for Best Original Score.
M. Keith Booker considers the film to be the most down-to-earth of the Disney animated films despite its theme song and magic, and notes that the film's protagonist has to work to prove his worth, which he remarked seemed "more in line with the ethos of capitalism" than most of the Disney films. Claudia Mitchell and Jacqueline Reid-Walsh believe that the male protagonists of films like Pinocchio and Bambi (1942) were purposefully constructed by Disney to appeal to both boys and girls. Mark I. Pinsky said that it is "a simple morality tale--cautionary and schematic--ideal for moral instruction, save for some of its darker moments", and noted that the film is a favorite of parents of young children.
Nicolas Sammond argues that the film is "an apt metaphor for the metaphysics of midcentury American child-rearing" and that the film is "ultimately an assimilationist fable". He considered it to be the central Disney film and the most strongly middle class, intended to relay the message that indulging in "the pleasures of the working class, of vaudeville, or of pool halls and amusement parks, led to a life as a beast of burden". For Sammond, the purpose of Pinocchio is to help convey to children the "middle-class virtues of deferred gratification, self-denial, thrift, and perseverance, naturalized as the experience of the most average American".
Author and illustrator Maurice Sendak, who saw the film in theaters in 1940, called the film superior to Collodi's novel in its depiction of children and growing up. "The Pinocchio in the film is not the unruly, sulking, vicious, devious (albeit still charming) marionette that Collodi created. Neither is he an innately evil, doomed-to-calamity child of sin. He is, rather, both lovable and loved. Therein lies Disney's triumph. His Pinocchio is a mischievous, innocent and very naive little wooden boy. What makes our anxiety over his fate endurable is a reassuring sense that Pinocchio is loved for himself -- and not for what he should or shouldn't be. Disney has corrected a terrible wrong. Pinocchio, he says, is good; his "badness" is only a matter of inexperience," and also that "Pinocchio's wish to be a real boy remains the film's underlying theme, but "becoming a real boy" now signifies the wish to grow up, not the wish to be good."
On July 16, 1985, it was released on home video and LaserDisc in North America for the first time as part of the Walt Disney Classics label, the second title with the Classics label after Robin Hood which was released the previous December. It would become the best-selling home video title of the year selling 130-150,000 units at $80 each. It was re-issued on October 14, 1986 to advertise the home video debut of Sleeping Beauty. It was then released on VHS in the UK in 1988 for the first time. The digital restoration that was completed for the 1992 cinema re-issue was released on VHS on March 26, 1993, followed by its fourth VHS release and first release on Disney DVD as the 60th Anniversary Edition on October 25, 1999.
The film was re-issued on DVD and one final time on VHS as part of the Walt Disney Gold Classics Collection release on March 7, 2000. Along the film, the VHS edition also contained a making-of documentary while the DVD had the film's original theatrical trailer as supplemental features. The Gold Classic Collection release was returned to the Disney Vault on January 31, 2002.
A special edition VHS and DVD of the film was released in the United Kingdom on March 3, 2003. The fourth DVD release and first Blu-ray Disc release (the second Blu-ray in the Walt Disney Platinum Editions series) was released on March 10, 2009. Like the 2008 Sleeping Beauty Blu-ray release, the Pinocchio Blu-ray package featured a new restoration by Lowry Digital in a two-disc Blu-ray set, with a bonus DVD version of the film also included. This set returned to the Disney Vault on April 30, 2011. A Signature Edition was released on Digital HD on January 10, 2017 and was followed by a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack on January 31, 2017.
In 1987, Filmation released a "thinly-veiled" animated sequel to Pinocchio, titled Pinocchio and the Emperor of the Night. Set a year after Pinocchio became a real boy, the movie received mainly negative reviews from critics and was a commercial failure. Disney sued Filmation for copyright infringement, but Filmation won the lawsuit on the grounds that Collodi's work is in the public domain.
Many of Pinocchios characters are costumed characters at Disney parks.Pinocchio's Daring Journey is a popular ride at the original Disneyland,Tokyo Disneyland, and Disneyland Park in Paris. Pinocchio Village Haus is a quick service restaurant at Walt Disney World that serves pizza and macaroni and cheese. There are similar quick-service restaurants at the Disneyland parks in Anaheim and Paris as well, with almost identical names.
Disney on Ice starring Pinocchio, toured internationally from 1987 to 1992. A shorter version of the story is also presented in the current Disney on Ice production "One Hundred Years of Magic".
Aside from the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive, Game Boy, and SNES games based on the animated film, Geppetto and Pinocchio also appear as characters in the game Kingdom Hearts. The inside of Monstro is also featured as one of the worlds. Jiminy Cricket appears as well, acting as a recorder, keeping a journal of the game's progress in Kingdom Hearts, Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, and, Kingdom Hearts II. Pinocchio's home world was slated to appear in Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, but was omitted due to time restrictions, although talk-sprites of Pinocchio, Geppetto, Honest John and Gideon have been revealed. As compensation, this world appears in Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, under the name "Prankster's Paradise", with Dream world versions of Pinocchio, Jiminy Cricket, Geppetto, Cleo, Monstro and the Blue Fairy appearing.
In the mid-2000s, Disneytoon Studios began development on a sequel to Pinocchio. Robert Reece co-wrote the film's screenplay, which saw Pinocchio on a "strange journey" for the sake of something dear to him. "It's a story that leads Pinocchio to question why life appears unfair sometimes," said Reece.John Lasseter cancelled Pinocchio II soon after being named Chief Creative Officer of Walt Disney Animation Studios in 2006.
In April 2015, it was announced that The Walt Disney Company is developing a feature length live-action adaptation of Pinocchio, with Peter Hedges writing the script. In May 2017, Sam Mendes entered talks to direct the film, with Chris Weitz serving as screenwriter and producer. In November, Mendes stepped down as director.
By February 2018, Paul King was announced as director, with Andrew Milano co-producing with Weitz and Jack Thorne rewriting the script. Principal photography was announced to take place in England and Italy, beginning in 2019. By November 2018, Tom Hanks entered talks to portray Geppetto. In January 2019, King stepped down as director, due to familial personal reasons.
By October 2019, Robert Zemeckis entered talks to serve as the director on the project, with a script co-written by King, Weitz, and Simon Farnaby. Weitz and Milano are still confirmed as producers. The same month, it was reported that due to the less-than-expected box office numbers from Dumbo and Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, Disney was considering releasing the film exclusively through its streaming service, Disney+. By January 2020, it was announced that Zemeckis had officially joined the project as director, with a script he co-wrote with Weitz, that Jack Rapke and Jackie Levine will serve as executive producers, and that the film would instead get a theatrical release. Filming is expected to begin in late 2020. In August 2020, Hanks, a recurring collaborator of Zemeckis', re-entered talks to play Geppetto.
Frank S. Nugent of The New York Times gave the film five out of five stars, saying "Pinocchio is here at last, is every bit as fine as we had prayed it would be--if not finer--and that it is as gay and clever and delightful a fantasy as any well-behaved youngster or jaded oldster could hope to see."Time gave the film a positive review, saying "In craftsmanship and delicacy of drawing and coloring, in the articulation of its dozens of characters, in the greater variety and depth of its photographic effects, it tops the high standard Snow White set. The charm, humor and loving care with which it treats its inanimate characters puts it in a class by itself."Variety praised the animation as superior to Snow Whites writing the "[a]nimation is so smooth that cartoon figures carry impression of real persons and settings rather than drawings to onlooker." In summary, they felt Pinocchio "will stand on [its] own as a substantial piece of entertainment for young and old, providing attention through its perfection in animation and photographic effects.The Hollywood Reporter wrote "Pinocchio is entertainment for every one of every age, so completely charming and delightful that there is profound regret when it reaches the final fade-out. Since comparisons will be inevitable, it may as well be said at once that, from a technical standpoint, conception and production, this picture is infinitely superior to Snow White." The film won the Academy Awards for Best Original Song and Best Original Score, the first Disney film to win either.
Initially, Pinocchio was not a box-office success. The box office returns from the film's initial release were both below Snow White's unprecedented success and below studio expectations. Of the film's $2.6 million negative cost - twice the cost of Snow White - Disney only recouped $1 million by late 1940, with studio reports of the film's final original box office take varying between $1.4 million and $1.9 million. Animation historian Michael Barrier notes that Pinocchio returned rentals of less than one million by September 1940, and in its first public annual report, Walt Disney Productions charged off a $1 million loss to the film. Barrier relays that a 1947 Pinocchio balance sheet listed total receipts to the studio of $1,423,046.78. This was primarily due to the fact that World War II and its aftermath had cut off the European and Asian markets overseas, and hindered the international success of Pinocchio and other Disney releases during the early and mid-1940s.Joe Grant recalled Walt Disney being "very, very depressed" about Pinocchio's initial returns at the box office. The distributor RKO recorded a loss of $94,000 for the film from worldwide rentals of $3,238,000.
With the re-release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1944 came the tradition of re-releasing Disney films every seven to ten years.Pinocchio was theatrically re-released in 1945, 1954, 1962, 1971, 1978, 1984, and 1992. RKO handled the first two reissues in 1945 and 1954, while Disney itself reissued the film from 1962 on through its Buena Vista Distribution division. The 1992 re-issue was digitally restored by cleaning and removing scratches from the original negatives one frame at a time, eliminating soundtrack distortions, and revitalizing the color.
Despite its initial struggles at the box office, a series of reissues in the years after World War II proved more successful, and allowed the film to turn a profit. By 1973, the film had earned rentals of $13 million in the United States and Canada from the initial 1940 release and four reissues. After the 1978 reissue, the rentals had increased to $19.9 million from a total gross of $39 million. The 1984 reissue grossed $26.5 million in the U.S. and Canada, bringing its total gross there to $65.4 million and $145 million worldwide. The 1992 reissue grossed $18.9 million in the U.S. and Canada bringing Pinocchio's lifetime gross to $84.3 million at the U.S. and Canadian box office.
On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has the website's highest rating of 100%, meaning every single one of the 52 reviews of the film, from contemporaneous reviews to modern re-appraisals, on the site are positive, with an average rating of 9.1/10. The general consensus of the film on the site is "Ambitious, adventurous, and sometimes frightening, Pinocchio arguably represents the pinnacle of Disney's collected works - it's beautifully crafted and emotionally resonant.". On Metacritic, Pinocchio has a weighted score of 99 out of 100 based on 17 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".
Many film historians consider this to be the film that most closely approaches technical perfection of all the Disney animated features. Film critic Leonard Maltin said, "with Pinocchio, Disney reached not only the height of his powers, but the apex of what many critics consider to be the realm of the animated cartoon."
In 1994, Pinocchio was added to the United States National Film Registry as being deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". Filmmaker Terry Gilliam selected it as one of the ten best animated films of all time in a 2001 article written for The Guardian and in 2005, Time named it one of the 100 best films of the last 80 years, and then in June 2011 named it the best animated movie of "The 25 All-TIME Best Animated Films".
In June 2008, the American Film Institute revealed its "Ten top Ten"--the best ten films in ten "classic" American film genres--after polling over 1,500 people from the creative community. Pinocchio was acknowledged as the second best film in the animation genre, after Snow White. It was nominated for the AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies, and received further nominations for their Thrills and Heroes and Villains (Stromboli) lists. The song "When You Wish Upon A Star" ranked number 7 on their 100 Songs list, and the film ranked 38th in the 100 Cheers list. The quote "A lie keeps growing and growing until it's as plain as the nose on your face" was nominated for the Movie Quotes list, and the film received further nomination in the AFI's Greatest Movie Musicals list.