Hailing as one of the most priceless jewels of the Disney Classic collection, “Pinocchio”, the second animated film created by Walt Disney, is one of Disney’s darkest and most beautiful films. On a quiet, star-lit night, a wooden puppet named Pinocchio is brought to life by the Blue Fairy when she answers the heartfelt wish of a humble toymaker named Geppetto. As Pinocchio embarks on his journey to prove he is worthy of becoming a real boy, he occasionally falls into the dark chasm of temptation, but ultimately, with the help of his loyal conscience, he is able to make his father’s wish come true.
One of the most remarkable things about Pinocchio’s character is that he is given this extraordinary task of becoming a real boy, but while has the Blue Fairy, Jiminy Cricket, and his father to guide and comfort him, he must ultimately face his journey alone. While Pinocchio attempts to follow the path expected of him, he finds himself repeatedly drawn into the dark shadows of temptation and left with the uncomfortable challenge of redeeming himself. Like most children, Pinocchio finds conceding to the truth a harder pill to swallow than maintaining the lie and despite his attempts to mask his transgressions, the truth is soon revealed by the proverbial growing of his nose. Ultimately, Pinocchio fulfills his father’s wish when he chooses to save his father from certain peril even though it meant possibly sacrificing his own life.
One of the most powerful themes conveyed in “Pinocchio” is the power of a father’s love. While the story is focused on Pinocchio’s journey and not so much his father, the strength of Geppetto’s love for his son is one of the most powerful elements of the film. At the beginning of the movie, the audience witnesses Geppetto putting the final touches on his latest creation: a wooden puppet that he names Pinocchio. As Geppetto prepares for bed, his heartfelt prayer is that Pinocchio would become a real boy. When Pinocchio is brought to life by the Blue Fairy and Geppetto discovers him, the emotional connection between father and son is established almost immediately. When Pinocchio is kidnapped by Stromboli, Geppetto ventures out into the dark, stormy night to search for him. Finally, when Geppetto discovers Pinocchio after they are chased by Monstro the whale, he carries his son home and mourns for him rather than leaving him alone in the water. The joy that is conveyed when Geppetto discovers Pinocchio is real is truly genuine and heartwarming because the connection between father and son is so incredibly strong.
Another significant theme in “Pinocchio” is transformation. Upon hearing Geppetto’s wish, the Blue Fairy comes to his home as he sleeps and turns Pinocchio into a living puppet. When Pinocchio requires a conscience to guide him on his journey, the Blue Fairy transforms Jiminy Cricket into his conscience. When Pinocchio encounters the Blue Fairy in Stromboli’s wagon, his untruthful confession causes his nose to grow. When Pinocchio succumbs to worldly temptation on Pleasure Island, he is transformed into a donkey. When Pinocchio demonstrates courage and selfless love by rescuing his father, he is finally transformed into a real boy.
While “Pinocchio” did not achieve the financial success that “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” did, the film is still recognized as a remarkable achievement. The film won two Oscars in 1941 for Best Music – Original Score given to Leigh Harline, Paul J. Smith, Ned Washington and also Best Music – Original Song for “When You Wish Upon A Star”, a song which has become one of Disney’s most iconic and beloved musical achievements.
“Pinocchio” is one of Disney’s darkest and most beautiful movies, and has endured the passage of time because its message is so profound. While “Pinocchio” strikes an emotional chord with the audience that is almost as powerful as the emotion conveyed in “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”, there is a darker tone to the movie which allows viewers to appreciate the story on a deeper level. The stunning animation, coupled with a cast of memorable characters and songs that have followed most of us through childhood make this movie truly exceptional in the Disney animated canon. This film is recommended to anyone who loves Disney animation at its best.