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From strictly an artistic standpoint, Walt Disney's 1940 production of PINOCCHIO ($37) is just about the most beautiful looking animated movie of all time. Every background and every cell is lushly drawn and painted like a fine work of art. That is why I appreciate PINOCCHIO now, far more than I ever could as a child. I have to admit; I am oftentimes dumbfounded by the level of loving care put into this animated masterpiece by the group of artisans in the employ of Walt Disney. All of the animation is so fluid, yet when one examines individual frames of PINOCCHIO they are likely to discover that the film is actually an assemblage of one genuinely exquisite work of art after another.

PINOCCHIO is based upon the classic story by Carlo Collodi, and tells the story of a kindly old woodcarver named Geppetto. Even though he lives with his cat and goldfish, Geppetto is lonely and longs for a child of his own. One evening, after finishing a marionette that he has dubbed Pinocchio, Geppetto wishes on a star that the puppet were a real boy. After Geppetto falls asleep, The Blue Fairy appears and grants the old man's wish… well, at least partially. The Blue Fairy brings Pinocchio to life, but it is up to him to prove himself worthy of becoming a real boy by displaying the virtues of bravery, honesty and loyalty. To aid Pinocchio, The Blue Fairy assigns Jiminy Cricket the task of being Pinocchio's conscience, so that he may help the living puppet determine right from wrong.

When Geppetto awakens to find that Pinocchio has been brought to life, he acts like any dutiful father and sends his new son off to school to get an education. On his way to school, Pinocchio immediately falls under the influence of the wrong individuals, who take advantage of the naïve living puppet. This leads Pinocchio on a series of misadventure, thus insuring that our little wood boy will have to learn all of life's lessons the hard way- which in turn, makes Jiminy Cricket's difficult job twice as hard. PINOCCHIO features the vocal talents of Don Brodie, Walter Catlett, Frankie Darro, Cliff Edwards, Dickie Jones, Charles Judels, Christian Rub and Evelyn Venable.

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment has made PINOCCHIO available on Blu-ray Disc in a 1.37:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. The 1080p presentation is utterly stunning, thanks to a major digital rejuvenation that the film elements have undergone. PINOCCHIO looks tremendous in high definition- pristine, clear and even more detailed than I would have expected. This is the PINOCCHIO that lifelong fans of this animated masterpiece have been waiting for. Virtually every frame is a revelation; superbly rendering every bit of the beauty and loving detail that the artists put into PINOCCHIO. Colors are wonderfully vibrant, without being gaudy. Although I have never seen an IB print from the original release, I would imagine this presentation perfectly captures the essence of Technicolor. Blacks are deep and the whites appear crisp and clean. Contrast is very smooth. As I stated above, the film elements from which this presentation has been mastered were digitally rejuvenation, and therefore, are free from blemishes- making this nearly seventy-year-old film look brand new. Modest grain remains within the image, which maintains an organic quality. Kudos to Disney for producing this glorious visual presentation.

PINOCCHIO is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 7.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. For a film that is the seven-decade mark, the soundtrack is pleasant. Fidelity has limitations, but is for a film of this vintage. The musical component is a little thin, which has to be expected, but the songs come across quite nicely and sound a bit better than they have on past video releases. Stereo and surround imaging is more than respectable for a soundtrack that originated in the monaural realm. Dialogue is clean and easy to understand. Most of the age related background hiss and other audible anomalies have been cleaned up in the mastering process, leaving the track with a reasonably smooth sonic quality. A cleaned up version of the film’s original theatrical soundtrack is also present on this release, as are English subtitles.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplemental materials, which have been spread across this set. Disc one features a running Audio Commentary with film historians Leonard Maltin and J.B. Kaufman and animator Eric Goldberg. This feature is also offered in the Cine-Explore mode, which is a Video Commentary that has augmented with in context picture-in-picture, pop-up supplements in relation to individual moments or sequences (requires a Profile 1.1 player). A Disney View mode is also included, which replaces the black bars on the sides of the image with related artwork. Pinocchio’s Matter Of Facts is another viewing mode that provides pop-up trivia, while the Sing Along mode turns on the lyrics for the songs. A new Music Video for the song When You Wish Upon A Star by Meaghan Jette Martin is also included on disc one, as is the interactive game Pinocchio Knows Trivia Challenge. Bonus Trailers for other Disney titles are also provided. PINOCCHIO is also BD-Live enabled (requires a Profile 2.0 player).

Moving onto disc two, one will find additional supplemental programs. No Strings Attached: The Making Of Pinocchio is a nearly hour long look back at the production of this animated classic. Other Featurettes include The Sweat Box and Geppettos Then and Now. Live Action Reference Footage, plus two Deleted Scenes and an Alternate Ending are also provided, as are eight Art Galleries, one Deleted Song and three Theatrical Trailers. For the kids, more games are included: Pinocchio’s Puzzles and Pleasure Island Carnival Games. On disc three, one will find a standard definition DVD version of the film.

PINOCCHIO is a glorious achievement in the art of cell animation. The Blu-ray presentation is an absolutely stunning, totally pristine presentation of this masterpiece in high definition. Absolutely, positively recommended.



Pinocchio (2-Disc 70th Anniversary Platinum Edition + Standard DVD) [Blu-ray] (1940)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2009 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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