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Pinocchio is the finest Hand-drawn, Pre-computer Disney animation

Mar 21, 2008
Pinocchio, the character, was imagined by Carlo Collodi in 1883. The adored boy carved from a block of wood by Geppetto the woodcarver was first introduced in the tale The Adventures of Pinocchio. Collodi was very keen on using a puckish, cynical character to explore his own personal convictions and cultural and political critiques. As late as 1938, this was how Walt Disney had characterized the dearly loved wooden puppet who longed to be a real boy.

Disney, feeling that this version of Pinocchio may not be well liked across the board, froze production on his second animated feature. He asked for a total rethinking of the character, including how he would move, dress, and look. Initially, Pinocchio looked just like a puppet, with a pointed nose, pointed cap, and bare wooden hands. The new characterization of Pinocchio incoporated a rounded face, gloved five-fingered hands, and the distinct Tyrolean hat. Moreover, Disney did way with Pinocchio's original cynicism and ennui and instead opted to make Pinocchio Significantly more nave and childlike.

Likewise, the part of the cricket was rethought and extended from Collodi's original notion. Not initially in the film production, the cricket was given a considerable part and re-named Jiminy Cricket. He would come to be the voice of Pinocchio's ethics. Ward Kimball, one of Disney's best animators, reworked the character to look like the dapper gentleman we are familiar with today. He was unforgettably voiced by Cliff "Ukulele Ike" Edwards, the popular jazz vocalist and ukulele player.

Gideon the Cat was cast to be voiced by Mel Blanc, the famous voice of Bugs Bunny. Disney decided, however, to make Gideon mute, giving Foulfellow the Fox the bulk of the dialogue. All of Blanc's recorded dialogue, according to Wikipedia, was shelved except for a solitary hiccup we hear three times throughout the film. When Pinocchio was screened in February of 1940, it was successful, but not as well-received as Snow White. The total cost of the production was about $2.3 million, about twice as much as Snow White, yet it only recouped $1.9 million. The box office totals were hindered by the outbreak of World War II in Europe. Moreover, the film lacked a romantic element that had made Snow White so popular. Despite all these obstacles, Pinocchio was a sizeable success, including the song "When You Wish Upon A Star," which would go on to be incorporated into Disney's memorable fanfare. The song went on to win the Academy Award for Best Song. In 1994, Pinocchio was added to the National Film Registry for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant." It is considered to be the best example of hand-drawn, pre-computer-aided Disney animation.
About the Author
Steve Collins is an Author and Journalist based in Encino, CA. A huge Disney Fan, he uses Disney Movie Club to complete his collection. Read his reviews of movies purchased from the Disney Movie Club
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