What is the Disney Animation Challenge?
Since 1937, Walt Disney Animation Studios has produced a grand total of 60 films. Beginning with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and ending with Encanto, the Disney Animation Challenge is to watch all 60 films, commenting and ranking each one.
Why am I doing the challenge?
I’m glad you asked. I fricken LOVE Disney movies. I believe these magical fairy tales help keep that inner child alive in oneself. When someone says they are too old to watch Disney films or go to Disney World, this person has lost their inner child and needs to reconnect with it ASAP! Age is a mindset. You are never too old for anything! Just look at Walt Disney. This was a 29 year old man who decided to create dancing animals singing along with a princess as they cleaned a house belonging to seven dwarfs. The importance of these films, and the magic of Disney, is to keep that inner child living on inside you no matter what age you’re at in life. And I truly believe keeping that inner child within you is the key to longevity (I’m not a doctor so don’t quote me on this).
My Goal for the Challenge
Disney films have inspired me to become a writer. The inspiration came after seeing Aladdin on Broadway in 2019. After seeing this Broadway show, creativity filled my veins. So much that it got me sitting down and typing out my own fairy-tale book. That book soon became The Hoarding series. Fans of my series relate it to being a modern day fairy tale, and that was exactly the style I was going for. My goal for the Disney Animation Challenge is to learn the themes and story structure from the films I grew up loving to help me become a better writer.
So grab some popcorn and join me in the Disney Animation Challenge. Number two on the list is Pinocchio.
This dark story brings us to a small Tuscan village in Italy. Carved by a woodcarver named Geppetto, Pinocchio is a wooden puppet who dreams of becoming a real boy. Pinocchio was released in 1940 (over eighty years ago!) and was based on the children’s novel The Adventures of Pinocchio written in 1883 by Carlo Collodi, an Italitan writer from Florence, Tuscany. I never knew how cultured Disney movies were.
“Star light, star bright,
First star I see tonight;
I wish I may, I wish I might,
Have the wish I make tonight,” said Geppetto after spotting a Wishing Star.
Only real men cite nursery rhymes before bed time.
But I felt for this man. Poor old and lonely Geppetto, left with age and no family, spending his days as a woodcarver to pass the time. His collection mainly consisted of winding clocks. And he sure got creative. He had winding clocks of a man trying to chop off a turkey’s head, a man shooting a bird, a drunk bursting out of a bar window with a beer in hand, and a mom spanking her son’s behind. Geppetto had just called it a night after finishing carving and painting Pinocchio when he spotted a bright wishing star in the night sky just outside his window. He recited “Star Light, Star Bright”, a classic nursery rhyme, and made his wish that Pinocchio would become a real boy.
What a touching beginning. I really liked Geppetto. He reminded me of a character from my novel Junkland, Alvys Grent, the father of the protagonist. Alvys was also a woodcarver, owning his own shop called Grent Wine and Woodwork.
Although a sweet and caring old man, Geppetto was a terrible father. The morning after Pinocchio had just completed his transformation from a puppet to a living, breathing human being, Geppetto thought it a good idea for Pinocchio to go to school. This boy gave some pretty clear signs he didn’t know anything about the world, asking Geppetto “Why, Why, Why” after every sentence. A smart father would have waited a bit for Pinocchio to get settled into his new, human brain. Or at the very least he would have walked Pinocchio to school.
But I guess life is all about trial and error which creates growth. And there probably wouldn’t have been much of a plot if Geppetto had followed the good father rules.
“When you wish upon a star…” sang Jiminy Cricket as he settled himself into Geppetto’s home. His last names says it all, a walking, talking cricket who cracks some funny jokes and has good taste in women, especially when he got all googly-eye over the Blue Fairy. Besides singing one of the signature songs in Disney, he became Pinocchio’s conscious. And a terrible conscious he was! He gave the worst advice and lost Pinocchio a handful of times. But as Pinocchio had to learn how to be a real boy, Jiminy also had to learn how to be a good conscious.
“Prove yourself brave, truthful, and unselfish, and someday you will be a real boy,” said the Blue Fairy to Pinocchio. I’m not sure why Geppetto’s wish came with a bunch of obstacles for Pinocchio to jump over; Geppetto didn’t wish for that! But the message of the Blue Fairy was clear, Pinocchio had to learn how to steer away from temptation, to tell the truth, and to be an all around good person.
My favorite quote of the movie was when the Blue Fairy said, “Always let your conscious be your guide.” Your innerself knows best. And we can see that through Pinocchio when he finally listens to his conscious (Jiminy Cricket) and makes better decisions which leads him to saving his father who had been swallowed by Monstro, a giant whale. I still don’t know how a boy and a cricket survived underwater without any breathing apparatuses. But this movie also had a talking fox. Don’t question the power of the conscious, I guess.
The Actor’s Life
As Pinocchio skipped to his first day of school, temptation already encountered him when J. Worthington Foulfellow (or Honest John) introduced him to the easy way out in life by joining the actor’s life. Pinocchio agreed to go with Honest John, skipping in the opposite direction of school, while singing “Hi-Diddle-Dee-Dee (An Actor’s Life for Me)”. But Honest John wasn’t so honest afterall as he had betrayed Pinocchio by selling him to the showman Stromboli who had Pinocchio work as a slave in his theater acts. Besides the beginning of a dark plot, I wondered why there was a walking, talking fox kidnapping kids in this small, italian village. I thought this was supposed to be a kid’s movie! It gets worse…
“I’m collecting stupid little boys…The disobedient ones that play hooky from school…And I take ’em to Paradise Island!” said the Coachman. This actually gave me goosebumps. Besides reminding me of all the dark things happening in the world today, this was a children’s film! And this Coachman was going around kidnapping boys, tempting them with a free vacation to Paradise Island where they could brake all the rules they wanted. Pinocchio was once again tempted by Honest John by this free vacation. Easily convinced (and with Jiminy no where in sight), Pinocchio was taken to Paradise Island where he vandalized buildings, smoked fat cigars, and consumed large amounts of alcohol.
But the weirdness doesn’t end there.
The Coachman drugged the boys. Turned them into donkeys. And sold them off to circuses and farms. The ones that could still talk, he kept for himself to work for him so that they could never rat out his scheme to the authorities.
When it comes to villanous plans, I think this defintiely out does the Evil Queen’s poison apple in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
My ultimate question is…What were those black creature things working for the Coachman? They creeped me out.
I personally liked the soundtrack of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs more than the music in this film. I missed singing and dancing along with the seven dwarfs. The songs in this film had a sadder, emotional tone to them. But there were still some very good songs that need to be mentioned! “When You Wish Upon a Star”, “Give a Little Whistle”, “Hi-Diddle-Dee-Dee (An Actor’s Life for Me)”, and “I’ve Got No Strings”.
There’s a reason why I didn’t come back to this one much as a child. This story was dark and scary with a plot revolving around kidnapping and selling children. But watching as an adult, I was highly entertained with Jiminy Cricket’s humor, Pinocchio’s innocent curiosity, the beauty of the Blue Fairy, the loving care of Geppetto, and of course Geppetto’s animal friends Cleo the fish and the almost human-like cat, Figaro. I’d say I enjoyed this movie a lot more than Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs because this one felt more like a story, where Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs felt more like a Broadway musical with a crazy old lady trying to kill her stepdaughter. If I had one wish upon a star, I would wish to sit down with the author of The Adventures of Pinocchio, Carlo Collodi, and ask him what the heck was going on in his mind when he created this dark story.
Soundtrack Ranking: 3.8/5
Overall Rating: 4.2/5