Thursday, October 21, 2010

Pinocchio (1940)

Wooden boy gets taken to fantasy land by a fat, old pedophile.

There is something downright impressive about traditional animation. In a time when most animators were struggling to make short, simple animated pieces, Disney was crafting full-length epics with all the bells and whistles. The original Disney films, the ones made in the 30's and 40's were leaps and bounds ahead of anything else out there and Pinocchio embodies this marvelously. Not only is the technology and artistry phenomenal, but the themes and content of the movie shows a mature angle that children's movies, even today, tend to avoid. Together, these elements make Pinocchio a movie that's pretty special.

After the magnificent success of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs three years prior, the animators at Disney produced Pinocchio. Pinocchio isn't exactly and original story, that's something that Disney will continue to explore in the future, but it has all sorts of Disney twists. A lonely woodcutter creates a son out of wood and wishes for him to live. The wooden boy springs to life only to fail at pretty much everything he tries. Disney's attempt to convince the world that women are truly useless didn't quite match the financial success of Snow White, but it has become a much beloved classic in the modern era. The film won a pair of Academy Awards, both of music, and is a certifiable animated, classic nowadays. At the very least, Pinocchio is a daring, unconventional step for Disney and a movie that still stands out today.

When watching Pinocchio, it's important to remember how impressive the film-making was at the time. Everything Disney produced in the early years deserves to be viewed as technological marvels and Pinocchio is no exception. The animation here is superb and it always will be. What makes Pinocchio stand out even more are the thematic elements. This is a children's film for an entirely different generation. The tone of the movie is especially dark and the language is, at times, questionable. These things make the movie truly enjoyable as an adult. Sometimes Children's movies are afraid of the down and dirty aspects of life that work for all ages, but Pinocchio address these things wonderfully. Pinocchio teaches a wonderful lesson for kids, honesty is good, while appealing to adults with some really disturbing subtext.

When you watch a movie that almost 70 years old, you have to ask yourself why. Some movies the answer to the question is easy. Pinocchio is one of those films. The movie continues to speak to modern sensibilities as well as serving as an interesting time capsule. Not only is the film a masterful technological achievement, but it's managed to stay relevant and interesting for longer than my grandparents have been alive. That alone makes it worth seeing.


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