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The Walt Disney Signature Collection’s third release debuts on January 31st with 1940’s animated masterpiece, Pinocchio. It was last released in 2009 when the Blu-Ray adoption rate was still small, so this is terrific news for many fans who will finally get the chance to own it in HD. With nearly all of the Platinum Edition’s bonus features carried over, this release is sure to please anyone who doesn’t already own the film on Blu-Ray.

Pinocchio tells the story of a living wooden puppet, the result of a wish granted to his good-natured father, Geppetto. But if Pinocchio ever wants to honor Geppetto’s wish of having a real boy, he must prove himself “Brave, truthful, and unselfish.” The gullible child’s conscience, a cricket named Jiminy, will have his work cut out for him in this Disney animated classic.

The enduring legacy of Pinocchio is hard to top. While adapted from the works of author Carlo Collodi, it is the Disney version that modern audiences think of when they are reminded of the tale. Disney and his talented team of storytellers worked the episodic novel into a work of art and forever changed pop-culture as a result. The expression “Jiminy Cricket” now has a face, magic now has a defined look thanks to the Blue Fairy’s sparkles (later known as “Disney Dust”), and parental threats to children that telling lies will make their nose grow now have a powerful visual attached.

Thematically speaking, Pinocchio is one of the darkest films in the Disney animated canon. One of its most relatable themes is the desire to please a parent, a message that seems very personal to Walt. It also explores the thin line between right and wrong and the consequences of crossing it. It lacks many of the stereotypical Disney plot elements, such as the death of a parent or even a villain’s demise.

But for all of its dark elements, Pinocchio stands as one of the most charming and well-animated films of all time. Nearly every shot could be framed, including the breathtaking panning opening, the brilliant clocks in Geppetto’s workshop, and Pinocchio’s marionette performance. Not to mention the music, which gave Disney its corporate anthem, “When You Wish Upon a Star.”

This review covers the new Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital HD Combo Pack. A standalone DVD release is available, and the film can also be purchased digitally from all major providers.

Video

The Signature Collection video presentation of Pinocchio is identical to the 2009 restoration found on the Platinum Edition. The original Technicolor spectrum is brought back to life in this release, with some very vivid and contrasting colors on screen. Deep reds, bold yellows, and inky blacks pop against the often-muted color schemes of the world Pinocchio lives in. And Pleasure Island comes to life like the neon lights of Times Square in this stunning presentation.

The DVD loses some of the luster of the Blu-Ray, diminishing the color spectrum slightly as a result of the limitations of that medium. Some of the fine detail is lost as well, particularly in the woodshop sequences.

Audio

The previous Blu-Ray’s 7.1 DTS-HDMA surround mix is replicated in this digital release, which is thankfully from the disc replacement version of the Platinum Edition. This means that the missing dialogue from “Give a Little Whistle” has been restored. Like most films from the 1940’s, this surround mix adds a little bit of scope to the mono version, but audio mostly lives in the front three speakers. Other audio options include the mono Restored Original Soundtrack, French 7.1 DTS-HDHR and Spanish 5.1.

The DVD features English 5.1, Restored Original Soundtrack (mono), plus French and Spanish 5.1. This version also has the corrected audio from “Give a Little Whistle,” which was never corrected on the Platinum Edition DVD (Disney only did a disc replacement for the Blu-Ray disc at the time).

Bonus Features

Previous Signature Collection releases have relegated a significant amount of classic bonus features to the digital edition, but Pinocchio abandons that concept. This time around, the extras on disc nearly match the digital copy, with only a few viewing options being left off due to disc space.

New Bonus Features

  • The Pinocchio Project: When You Wish Upon a Star
    • The Project (3:03) – Singers JR Aquino, Alex G, and Tanner Patrick collaborate to create a modern recording of Disney’s theme song, “When You Wish Upon a Star.”
    • The Video (2:49) – A music video for the same song from “The Project” where the singers perform in front of a starry background.
  • Walt’s Story Meetings: Pleasure Island (7:14) – Transcripts from the Pinocchio story meetings are brought to life by actors with an introduction by Pete Doctor and J.B. Kauffman. Storyboards and production artwork accompany this feature, where they discuss “Boobieland,” which was later renamed Pleasure Island.
  • In Walt’s Words: Pinocchio (4:48) – Archival recordings of Walt Disney discussing why he made Pinocchio are presented along with clips from the film and rare behind-the-scenes photos.
  • Oswald the Lucky Rabbit in “Poor Papa” (5:20) – A recently restored Oswald short from 1927, which was the character’s debut, where the stork pays the lucky rabbit a visit with a seemingly endless number of baby rabbits.
  • Sing Along With the Movie (1:27:43) – Watch the film with on-screen lyrics during every song so your entire family can sing along. This feature is not listed as a bonus feature, but is presented as a viewing option when playing the film.

Classic Bonus Features

  • No Strings Attached: The Making of Pinocchio (55:58) – Animation talent and film historians reveal the origins of the story, how it attracted Walt Disney, why this was the second animated feature, and its impressive legacy.
  • Deleted Scenes
    • Introduction (1:02) – This introduction shows a quick tour of the Animation Research Library where artwork is stored, including storyboards of deleted scenes.
    • The Story of the Grandfather Tree (3:21) – Geppetto tells Pinocchio a bedtime story.
    • Im the Belly of the Whale (4:18) – Geppetto, Figaro and Cleo try to find food inside Monstro before Pinocchio meets up with them.
    • Alternate Ending (1:59) – In this version, Pinocchio is transformed into a real boy after blaming himself for Geppetto’s illness instead of the more chilling reveal in the final film.
  • The Sweatbox (6:24) – One of Disney’s innovations, the sweatbox, is highlighted in this feature about the way Walt would review his animator’s work everyday in a tiny hot room.
  • Geppettos Then and Now (10:57) – Modern toy makers are juxtaposed against classic wooden toymakers in this featurette. It dates itself by focusing on toys from Pixar’s WALL-E.
  • Live Action Reference Footage (9:58) – Live action reference footage was used as a tool to aide the animators on Pinocchio. This footage was made at Disney’s Hyperion Studio in 1939 before the move to the current Burbank lot.
  • Publicity
    • Original Theatrical Trailer 1940 (1:52)
    • Theatrical Trailer 1984 (1:27)
    • Theatrical Trailer 1992 (1:29)
  • “When You Wish Upon a Star” Music Video (3:14) – Meaghan Jette Martin from Camp Rock sings the Disney anthem in this pop video.
  • A Wish Come True : The Making of Pinocchio (5:06) – From the 1999 VHS re-release, this short feature was absent from all DVD releases and is a welcome addition, even though all of the topics are repeated in the 2009 documentary.
  • Storyboard to Final Film Comparison (4:04) – Not seen since the 1992 laserdisc deluxe release, this showcases the “Little Wooden Head” musical number comparing the final film with the original storyboards.
  • Song Selection – Jumps to a designated song in the film with on-screen lyrics. Available in English and French.
    • “When You Wish Upon a Star” (2:04)
    • “Little Wooden Head” (2:12)
    • “Give a Little Whistle” (1:38)
    • “Hi-Diddle-Dee-Dee” (1:31)
    • “I’ve Got No Strings” (2:58)
  • Audio Commentary (1:27:43) – Leonard Maltin, Eric Goldberg and J.B. Kaufman host this audio commentary track. Throughout, they reference absent visuals which are from the Cine-Explore viewing option, which is absent on this release.
  • Disney View (1:27:43) – Watch the film on a 16:9 screen with images filling the black space on either side.

The DVD doesn’t have any bonus features.

There is one bonus feature that is exclusive to the digital copy, which is the Cine-Explore picture-in-picture visual commentary. It uses the same commentary track found on the Blu-Ray, but also has extra images and videos that appear during the film. There is also a bonus feature that was advertised as being part of this release, a feature-length documentary about women in animation. It’s absence is confusing after it was included in D23’s announcement about this release.

Packaging & Design

Pinocchio is housed in a standard-sized Blu-Ray case with both discs housed on the interior walls. The case fits into an embossed slipcover with a matte finish and metallic accents, similar to the design of the Signature Collection release of Snow White. Inserts include a code for the Disney Movies Anywhere digital copy/Disney Movie Rewards points and a flier for Disney Movie Club.

Both discs open with ads for Beauty and the Beast, Moana, and anti-smoking PSA with characters from Pinocchio. Selecting Sneak Peeks from the main menu plays ads for Disney Movie Rewards, Descendants 2, Elena of Avalor, and DisneyNature Born in China. The menu pans over storyboards with concept artwork and moving clips from the film as the beautiful score plays.

Final Thoughts

The Signature Collection version of Pinocchio loses a few viewing modes from the previous Platinum Edition release, but retains nearly everything else along with a few new bonus features. The corrected audio for “Give a Little Whistle” should give film purists enough incentive to replace their previous edition, but if you took advantage of the disc replacement for the previous Blu-Ray, this release offers little reason to double-dip. But for a new generation who have yet to fall under the spell of the Blue Fairy, it’s the perfect time to introduce them to Walt Disney’s Pinocchio.

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