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Details At A Glance

Category Family Theatrical Trailer(s) None
Rating Other Trailer(s) None
Year Released 1940 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time 84:04 minutes Other Extras Film Recommendations
RSDL/Flipper RSDL (50:56)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 2,4 Director Hamilton Luske
Ben Sharpsteen
Walt Disney Pictures
Warner Home Video
Starring Dickie Jones
Cliff Edwards
Christian Rub
Evelyn Venable
Walter Catlett
Frankie Darro
Charles Judels
Case Transparent Amaray
RRP $39.95 Music Leigh Harline
Ned Washington
Paul J. Smith

Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio No Dolby Digital 4.0
16x9 Enhancement No Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 4.0, 384 Kb/s)
French (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192 Kb/s)
Italian (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192 Kb/s)
Dutch (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192 Kb/s)
Polish (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192 Kb/s)
Hebrew (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192 Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.37:1
Macrovision ? Smoking Yes
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    And so we get to the last of my reviews of the current batch of animated classics from Disney. In many ways, there is no more appropriate way to finish off the batch than with one of the very early masterpieces that almost defined the genre of the animated feature. Pinocchio was the follow-up to the ground breaking Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs and was important in as much as if the follow-up was a complete disaster, then the entire genre of the animated feature would have died a slow death. The fact that Pinocchio has become a classic in every sense of the word only illustrates how important it and Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs (and maybe a certain mouse) were to the entire Walt Disney empire. The fact that the film can still entertain, and can still hold its own in terms of animation sixty years on is a tribute to the quality of the work of the entire production staff.

    Surely there is no one who does not know the story of Pinocchio? After all, in sixty years there must have been plenty of opportunity for most to have seen the film in one form or another at least once. Still, for those who may not know the film, a brief synopsis (complete with spoilers) follows. Geppetto (vocalized by Christian Rub) is a wood carver who has brought joy to many people with his work. His latest piece of work is a magnificent wooden puppet. One night after completing the puppet, which he has named Pinocchio (Dickie Jones), Geppetto happens to wish upon a star (sounds like a song there somewhere!) and his wish is for Pinocchio to be a real boy. Well, when you wish upon a star and your name is Geppetto, your wishes can come true - and so comes a visit from The Blue Fairy (Evelyn Venable) to grant his wish. At the same time, one lowly cricket by the name of Jiminy (Cliff Edwards) is made Pinocchio's conscience. However, having life is one thing but to become a real boy, Pinocchio must prove himself honest, fair and true (or something like that anyway). Now, little boys and being honest, fair and true are almost mutually exclusive, and so it is for Pinocchio who faces all sorts of temptation - on his first day of life no less whilst heading to school. Instead of going to school, however, he ends up in the marionette show of impresario Stromboli (Charles Judels) before things go from bad to worse. Given a reprieve by The Blue Fairy, Pinocchio almost succumbs a second time before Jiminy gets him on the straight and narrow, but not before Geppetto meets with an unfortunate incident that results in residency in the belly of a giant whale called Monstro. Proving himself honest, fair and true, Pinocchio rescues Geppetto thereby fulfilling the requirements of The Blue Fairy to become a real, live, flesh and blood boy.

    A staggeringly simple story - although the Monstro whale bit never really seemed to me to make a great deal of sense within the overall flow of the story - that Disney then applied their usual doses of syrup to. But at least this is almost original Disney syrup, and the morals that they espouse actually bear repeating frequently nowadays. The animation itself is starting to show a little bit of age but in general this is a lovely, lush style of animation that is actually holding its age better then some more recent efforts. Overall, I seriously doubt that too many would deny this film its status as a classic, and the self-styled titling of "masterpiece" is justifiable in my view. We have been enjoying this for sixty years (well, forty years in my case) and hopefully future generations will derive as much pleasure from this as we have.

Transfer Quality


    Well, it is sixty years old so some allowance has to be made, but not an awful lot. I sincerely hope that I look this good when I reach sixty!

    The transfer is presented in a Full Frame format.

    The most obvious evidence of the age of the film is the degree of inconsistency in the picture: at times, this is gorgeously sharp and clear, looking far younger than its sixty years, whereas at others it is just a little diffuse and looking quite dirty. In this regard however, I have to say that overall it looks a little better than the much younger Lady And The Tramp. The picture is just a little flat and lacks somewhat in depth, but this is not a transfer problem, rather an inherent result of this being sixty years old. The film was restored a few years back and it would appear that the restored film is the basis of this transfer. Overall detail is pretty good indeed considering the age of the film. There appears to be some minor problems with low level noise in the transfer, but nothing that I would consider terribly distracting.

    What really stands out here though are the colours, both for good reasons and for bad reasons. First the bad reason: the colours fluctuate somewhat in a noticeable strobe-like manner, which means that there is some fluctuation between a muted palette and a vibrant palette of colours. The fluctuations in the colour are not too much of an annoyance to me, but others may find it a little more distracting. The good reasons are the fact that at times, the colours come up beautifully vibrant with a lovely depth to them. In general, the transfer tends to a nice rich tone in the colours, although blacks tend to be more of a deep brown rather than black - but again this is not too much of an annoyance to me. There was no real suggestion of oversaturation of colours in the transfer at all. There did not appear to be any colour bleed in the transfer.

   There were no apparent MPEG artefacts in the transfer. Film-to-video artefacts were pretty much absent from the transfer, apart from the strobing effect of the colours. Film artefacts were hardly a problem either, which is quite surprising for a film of this age.

   This is an RSDL format disc, with the layer change coming at 50:54. This is a well handled change, coming during a black scene change and is not too noticeable and is not at all disruptive to the film.


   The audio transfer is not as distinctive as the video transfer.

   There are six audio tracks on the DVD: the default English Dolby Digital 4.0 soundtrack and five Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded efforts: French, Italian, Dutch, Polish and Hebrew. You should note that the reference to a Polish Dolby Digital 1.0 mono soundtrack on the packaging is incorrect - it does not exist. I listened to the English default. The 4.0 channel configuration appears to be Left - Centre - Right - Surround, although there is very little action out of the surround.

    The dialogue was clear and easy to understand at all times.

    The usual animation sync "problems" exist but nothing to worry about here.

    The musical score comes from the committee of Leigh Harline, Ned Washington and Paul J. Smith, and a damn fine one it is too: there is good reason why this copped an Oscar in 1940 for Best Original Score (as well as Best Song - the aforementioned When You Wish Upon A Star). Whilst song and music have become an integral part of Disney animated features, they have rarely in recent times matched the heights set by Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs and Pinocchio. This film would definitely be the poorer if the score were missing.

    Despite the 4 channel effort, there really is not much going on in the sound mix here and this really sounds a quite frontal effort. I barely recall hearing any action out of the surround channels at all, and obviously the bass channel is completely unused. There was some minor distortion in the sound at around 5:46, but this is most likely to be the result of degradation of the sixty year old source. The sound picture is very frontal although not straight out of the centre speaker. The overall sound picture is not really enveloping and it almost seems like the sound is focused about one foot in front of the picture, if that makes any sense. Overall though, I doubt that we could expect any better than this and I would not like to see a 5.1 remaster inflicted upon the film.


    And we have... the film recommendations. Again. Five straight DVDs with the same extras package is just stretching the bounds of sanity just a little. It might have been less of a problem if the recommendations were actually the theatrical trailers...



Film Recommendations

    Ho hum.

R4 vs R1

    This has already had two releases in Region 1, a "Limited Issue" release that was on sale for 60 days, then supposedly placed on moratorium for years, and a re-release in an identically configured "Gold Collection" release. The details quoted below are in relation to the "Limited Issue" release, but obviously apply to the "Gold Collection" release too.

    The Region 4 release misses out on:

    Again, in essence there is not an awful lot of difference between the two releases, unless THX certification really means something to you and a theatrical trailer is a compelling extra. The minor problems regarding the strobing of the colours are in the Region 1 release too, so this would indicate to me that these are source problems and not transfer problems. A direct comparison between the Region 1 and Region 4 releases indicates that there is not much difference at all visually or aurally (funnily enough). There is really not much to choose between them at all here, so let's call it even.


    Pinocchio is a classic film that suffers a little due to its age, but in all the circumstances I doubt that we could expect much better in the way of transfer than what we have gotten. But, it is featureless, and the asking price is $39.95, which is a serious disincentive.

    A good video transfer for a sixty year old film.

    A pretty decent audio transfer.

    No extras package to really be concerned about.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ian Morris (have a laugh, check out the bio)
25th May 2000

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-515; S-video output
Display Sony Trinitron Wega 84cm. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Built in
Amplification Yamaha RXV-795. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Speakers Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL