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Kevin Krock, editor
DVD Review
Pinocchio
(1940)
| Approx. 88 Minutes | Rated G | Reviewed by Tony Phoenix
Cover Art
Click to Buy
Ratings Summary
(Scored out of a maximum of five)
Audio Video
Goodies   Interface
Value

The Movie

This story of a little wooden boy who discovers the world, has taken on a special significance in our society. As a result, several generations of children have lived in mortal fear of their nose growing by several sizes if they fibbed. The music of "When You Wish Upon a Star" is recognized instantly by millions of people.

The movie still has its charm six decades later, appealing to young and old alike. The moral of the story has been used for decades in families to teach children, the Donkey scene in particular still able to scare children as well as anything else created since then. (Sharp eyed observers may note that the opening contains a marvelous hint of another Disney movie to come - look for the title of the other book in the opening scene.)

The Goodies

The question begged to be asked: what goodies? While the one trailer does hold some historical significance, it is not enough to offset the complete lack of other material. As only the second feature- length animated film in history, Disney could have included some material from the archives, such as commentary from Walt. Even the ever- present trivia games and storybooks would have helped here. 

Here's what you got in the deluxe LaserDisc box set
Here's what you got in the deluxe LaserDisc box set

The reason behind this was because this disc was part of the first wave of Disney DVD releases - all of which were bare- bone as far as extra features were concerned. And of course then offered at a premium price no less

It's a shame that the expansive LaserDisc box set's plethora of special features couldn't have been ported over to this release. Included on that set (shown above) was a bonus disc with a documentary "Pinocchio - Making of a Masterpiece," side- by- side storyboard / film comparisons, drawings from deleted scenes, storybook artist Gustaf Tenggren's studies, inspirational paintings, animator's models / model sheets, color call- outs, background paintings, production stills, a section on publicity materials, a Pinocchio comic strip, the original trailer for 1940, reissue trailers for 1984 and 1992, a 28 page commemorative book, commemorative lithograph, and a CD of the movie score.

The LaserDisc commemorative book was beautifully printed...
The LaserDisc commemorative book was beautifully printed...

The Video, Audio and Interface

The video is outstanding, though viewers must remember that since the movie is over 60 years old, the animation quality is not as impressive as recent releases. In my opinion, the colors and effects produced in this era are just as impressive as that found today.

Editor's Note:

It's important to remember that some rather extensive video paintboxing was done in the creation of the master used for this disc (apparently the same as the last LaserDisc and videotape issued) - and sometimes it tends to take the "life" out of the animation handiwork.

This process is apparent in looking at an older copy of the film on video, where you can sometimes see the subtle color and shade variations from cel to cel - which gives it a more hand- crafted look. Paintboxing if overused tends to flatten out broad areas of color, and in the view of one rather observant critic can sometimes "plasticize" the images. Also the opening titles were freeze framed and cleaned up, then reshot to make them appear rock solid.

Newer video mastering techniques are being used now that don't play with / alter the image so much. The upcoming DVD special edition of Snow White should showcase how far this process has come (and how much more cognizant video technicians are of the original work) since Pinocchio was last transferred.

- Al Lutz

The book's opening page folded out to show the original background painting for the film's opening shot
The book's opening page folded out to show the original background painting for the film's opening shot

The English soundtrack is of high quality and the music a joy. Both received academy awards at the time. Both the vocals and sound effects are clear. In contrast, the French language dub has very muddy dialogue that is often difficult to hear, much less understand.

The interface is bare- bones with still images. There is not even basic musical accompaniment. Navigation is simple. I was fortunate to find a "Limited Issue" edition of this DVD (from the first time it came out) that does not have the collection of ads and trailers Disney has been forcing you to watch. The original plan for Disney's first DVDs were to only issue them on a one time basis, then re- release them again the the future. They changed their minds after the first batch shipped, and Pinocchio, among many others, were changed to constant availability. So beware of those ads on the Gold Collection reissue. 

Lots of rarely seen art complimented the story told in the book
Lots of rarely seen art complimented the story told in the book

The Final Evaluation

I love Pinocchio and its marvelous story telling. Among many animation fans, Pinocchio is considered Walt Disney's true masterpiece. Unfortunately, rather than providing any kind of extra materials on this disc to take advantage of this format, (which were clearly available to them), Disney chose to skimp on this release in the worst way. Basically, it is a great movie but a lousy DVD.

Ultimately, the only people I can recommend this current edition to are those who do not already own a VHS copy or who have a need or desire for the French language track. Save your money for what is sure to be a later release when Disney might finally include some of the wealth of bonus materials utilized on the LaserDisc set.


Promotional art Disney

DVD FEATURES

Goodies

  • Theatrical trailer

Technical Specifications

  • Region 1 Encoded
  • Single-Sided, Dual-Layer
  • 24 Chapters
  • English 4.0 Dolby Digital 
  • French 2.0 Dolby Digital 
  • English Subtitles
  • Full theatrical frame (1.33:1)
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