Sunday, January 10, 2010
Happy Anniversary, you real life freakshow...
Talking puppets? Who's responsible for THAT?
A political satirist who took the name "Carlo Collodi," in 1880 to publish his whimsical tales of an impish marionette who lived a Pilgrim's Progress kind of life stumbling into situations for which he was ill-prepared. Being wooden, and all...
I can find only 1 film version prior to Disney's, which was a 1911 live-action film from Italy. I will not use this space reviewing the many interpretations of the Wooden Boy over time, because it would require me to watch them, and I have to consider my well-being. Let's concentrate on the 1940 version, which is memorable enough.
Jiminy Crickett is not new, just a little more likable than the original. Pedantic Talking Cricket spouted things like "Trouble awaits boys who rebel against their parents and capriciously abandon their paternal home! They will never experience goodness in this world, and sooner or later, they will have to pay for it sourly." Maybe it's the translation. But I might have thrown a mallet at him myself.
Blue Fairy cribs heavily from Glenda the Good, but she too is an original Collodi character. She's kind of an emotional blackmailer, but she does grant him his boyhood in the end, after chapters of "Lies, my boy, are easily recognised because there are two kinds: There are lies with short legs and lies with long noses: Yours, to the point, are the kind with the long nose." Chapter XVII
Monstro the whale is new, and adds some third act action where the original story is more of an anti-climax.
What they said in 1940...
That it was better than Snow White. And you, know, it is. We fell hard for that theme song, but ooops... a war came along, and Pinocchio went into the red for years when overseas business was lost. In spite of low box office, though, Pinocchio scored at the Oscars, and has held up over time. Box Office figures estimate it at over $80M to date.
The Pinocchio you remember
why you shouldn't let children walk to school alone and Pinocchio is on the tour circuit. At Pleasure Island, he succumbs to every vice and turns into a jackass. (Incidentally, beer and cigars are still available on P.I.)
Pinocchio gets back home, finds Gepetto has gone looking for him. He's actually been swallowed by a whale, which Pinocchio is as well and they smoke their way out by way of a Monstro sneeze. Pinocchio drowns in the escape (don't quibble) but Blue Fairy answers Gepetto's prayer to save him and he revives as the real life (and somehow creepier looking) boy he always wanted to be.
70th anniversary additions and subtractions
Ok - here's what you want to know, if you are in fact still reading. Should you buy another version of 1940's Pinocchio if you already have one? I'll say that if you only have the VHS and want to own, go ahead. If you want the features the 70th Platinum version includes, you may prefer to rent. The film itself is unaltered, except (according to IMDB) for the ommision of a Jiminy Cricket line, which may be an error in transfer. All the terror, debauchery, and creepiness you enjoy from the original is intact.
Of Commonsensemedia.com reviewers ...
100% of parents say there's too much drinking, drugs, or smoking
67% of parents say it's too violent
67% of parents say it has language their kids can't use
33% of parents don't feel there are good role models
33% of parents say they notice product placement
(it's for a tavern called Red Lobster. They are either kidding or confused).