Toon Talk: Pinocchio Platinum Edition Blu-Ray
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by Kirby C. Holt
Disney DVD and Disney Blu-ray
MPAA Rating: G
When You Wish
Fresh off the overwhelming success of their first full-length feature, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Walt Disney and his staff of animators, writers, artists and composers set out to top themselves with their second film, Pinocchio. And they sure did, as the timeless tale of a little wooden puppet who yearns to be a real boy is generally regarded today as a masterpiece of the medium, one of (if not the) greatest achievements in animation ever put on film.
However, despite the stunningly detailed craftsmanship put into the alarmingly fast (just two years!) making of the picture (not to mention all the Dopey dough put to good use to finance the extravagant production), Pinocchio initially failed at the box office. The blame for this is usually placed on the decrease in foreign revenue due to the encroaching world war, but perhaps the film was ahead of its time, what with its decidedly dark tone and often-nightmarish imagery.
Nevertheless, through several theatrical re-releases and various home video incarnations, Pinocchio has not only become the hit it deserves to be, it has also been unanimously recognized as a cinematic classic. As recent as last year, it was named the second best animated film of all time by the American Film Institute (its immediate predecessor, Snow White, came in first place), in addition to similar honors from other film groups and publications over the years.
With its 70th birthday on the horizon (next year to be exact), Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment is celebrating with a 2-disc Platinum anniversary edition of Pinocchio, available today in both standard Disney DVD and high definition Disney Blu-ray versions. Richly appointed with all the state of the art bells and whistles the formats provide, these new releases offer a whole new reason to revisit the daring adventures of little woodenhead and company, especially the Blu-ray edition, with all the eye-popping clarity and crisp aural enhancements that high def provides. As Jiminy Cricket himself would say, “What they can’t do these days!”
On the other hand, die-hard purists may be taken aback by how scrubbed and polished this release is, but the casual viewer will revel in the splendor and grandeur of it all. And for those who haven’t yet jumped on the Blu-ray bandwagon, the Blu-ray does come packaged with a bonus DVD of the film itself (along with the other standard disc one bonus features, such as Fast Play and the audio commentary), so one can watch it now before they upgrade their home entertainment system.
In addition to a smoking warning that automatically plays at the beginning of the disc (not surprising considering all the stogie-puffing ol’ Pinoke and Lampwig do on Pleasure Island), the Blu-ray also has an option to add decorative frames to the picture image itself while watching the main feature. These themed designs, created by artist Toby Bluth and dubbed “Disney View”, help “fill in” the sides of the screen when viewing Pinocchio in the letterbox format. When I first heard about this new feature, I feared the frames would be distracting, but they are subtle and actually change throughout the film to complement the colors and mood of each particular scene.
Two other viewing options for the main feature are also available, the first of which is an onscreen trivia option called “Pinocchio’s Matter of Facts”. There is also the more traditional audio commentary, referred to here as “Cine-Explore” and provided by Disney expert Leonard Maltin, animator/director Eric Goldberg and animation historian J.B. Kaufman (supplemented with archival audio from such Pinocchio creators as Ward Kimball, Erick Larson, Frank Thomas, Ollie Johnston and Ken Anderson). Which brings us to …