Pinocchio (70th Anniversary Edition) - Blu-ray Review
By Jeff Swindoll Mar 10, 2009, 12:56 GMT
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 that shines brilliantly on 2-disc DVD. 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 comes to life like never before. Plus, all-new dazzling bonus features transport you into ...more
Someone wished upon a star and the Blu-ray fairy delivered another bar raising disc from the House of Mouse. Pinocchio has never looked more splendid than in this high def release and there are tons of bonus features and innovations to keep you occupied.
Jiminy Cricket (Cliff Edwards) is freezing and to get out of the cold he ventures into the shop of toymaker Geppetto (Christian Rub). He witnesses the kind toymaker working on a wooden puppet he names Pinocchio and plays with around the room to amuse his pet goldfish Cleo and cat Figaro (both pets voiced by Mel Blanc).
Before retiring for the night Geppetto wishes on a star that he had a real son. The Blue Fairy (Evelyn Venable) appears and knowing that Geppetto is a kind man and worthy of this wish brings Pinocchio (Dickie Jones) to life, but he’s still a wooden puppet. To become a real boy he needs to prove himself to the Fairy before being granted this privilege.
Since he’s still wooden and without human traits, she appoints Jiminy to be his conscience. Jiminy has his job cut out for him since Pinocchio can only get himself into trouble. Pinocchio will encounter the wonders of Pleasure Island and meet up with the villainous “Honest John” (Walter Catlett), his silent partner Gideon, the wicked Coachman, the shyster Stromboli (both voiced by Charles Judels), and travel into the gullet of the whale Monstro to rescue the trapped Geppetto.
Along the way he’ll also learn what happens when he lies and continue his quest to become a real boy.
Riding high on the success of Snow White, Walt Disney and company would produce another masterwork with the story of a wooden boy. I’ll give them the year since Pinocchio is really celebrating its 69th anniversary, but the Blu-ray is so fantastic why argue amongst friends?
Pinocchio has been given a pristine sheen that will cause Blu-ray fanatics (raises hand) and Blue Fairies to salivate. The film has certainly earned its classic status and is both masterfully animated and voiced. Unca’ Walt’s touch is certainly golden here. It’s a classic – nuff said.
The digital age is upon us and the Walt Disney Company knows that it must impress with this high-def release and does so in spades. The remaster is grand and the special features are numerous. It took three discs to hold it all and they even provide some extra viewing options so let’s just dive into this must-have set.
Pinocchio is presented in a 1080p high definition transfer (1.33:1). When you put in disc one you’ll be asked to play the film or go to the “total menus” to choose the special features you want. You’ll notice that Pinocchio is fullscreen.
This causes “pillar-box bars” to appear on the right and left of the screen. However, don’t be worried if you want your screen filled because they also provide an option to have paintings by Tony Bluth fill in those spaces as one of your play options. You get a commentary with film historians Leonard Maltin and J.B. Kaufman as well as enthusiast/animator Eric Goldberg, along with vintage participation from the likes of animators Ward Kimball, Eric Larson, and others.
You can listen to this commentary the old fashioned way or you can use another play option called Cine-Explore. Cine-Explore has the commentary participants appear in a pop-up window as well as other visuals aids (storyboards, stills, etc.). Under the games and activities section you’ll find “Pinocchio’s matter of facts” which is a pop-up fact track and an interactive trivia game.
The music and more section contains a “sing along mode” which turns on subtitles during the film’s songs and also lets you just play the songs (10 minutes) if you just want to sing and not have to watch the film. There’s also a music video for “When you Wish Upon a Star” (3 minutes) by Meaghan Martin. Terrible stuff that redoing of the classic Disney song. This disc also accesses Disney’s BD-Live community.
On to disc two, before diving into the rest let’s start off with the theatrical trailers (original – 2 minutes, 1984 reissue – 1 minute, and 1992 reissue – 1 minute) because they’re the only items on this disc in standard definition. The remainder of the special features are all in high-def. The 56 minute “No Strings Attached” is a fantastic making of that details the history of the production.
Next are two deleted scenes totaling 10 minutes, including introductions. The 6 minute “Sweat Box” is about Disney’s projection room which caused sweat both because of the temperature as well as having Unca’ Walt’s discussion with the animators. Next is 10 minutes of live action reference footage, eight art galleries, and a deleted song (2 minutes) about “Honest John.”
The 11 minute “Geppettos Then and Now” takes a look at some modern day toymakers. You also get two games, Pinocchio’s Puzzles and Pleasure Island Carnival Games. Disc three is a DVD, in case you want the kiddies to watch Pinocchio in the car, etc.
The DVD is disc one of the separately released two disc special edition and you get the commentary, sing alongs, and pop up facts as special features on this disc. Oddly, I didn’t see any indication of a digital copy [not that it mattered to me since I never use them, but thought it was an odd omission].
Pinocchio is just a delightful set. Any Blu-ray owner that doesn’t have it in their collection is surely lacking a conscious or a talking cricket that substitutes for one. It certainly raises the bar for animated features that appear on Blu-ray (and makes me salivate for the day when Peter Pan hits the format). My highest recommendation.