Pinocchio: Special Edition (1940)

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Released 7-Apr-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Animation Main Menu Audio & Animation
Menu Audio
Game-The Search For Jiminy Cricket
Easter Egg-Cat Nap Pluto (6:35)
Featurette-Making Of-A Wish Come True (5:02)
Karaoke-Sing-Along Song - Figaro & Cleo (1:32)
Karaoke-Sing-Along Song - Little Wooden Head (2:13)
Short Film-I'm No Fool Having Fun (8:20)
Short Film-I'm No Fool With Fire (7:59)
Storyboard Comparisons-(4:05)
Theatrical Trailer-1.33:1, not 16x9 enhanced, Dolby Digital 2.0 (1:53)
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1940
Running Time 84:01
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (63:48) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Hamilton Luske
Ben Sharpsteen
Studio
Distributor

Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Dickie Jones
Cliff Edwards
Christian Rub
Evelyn Venable
Walter Catlett
Frankie Darro
Charles Judels
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music Leigh Harline
Ned Washington
Paul J. Smith


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Czech Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Greek Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Hungarian Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.37:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Czech
Greek
Hungarian
Croatian
Slovenian
Czech Titling
German Titling
Hungarian Titling
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Another of the initial releases of Disney animated features to fall under the reissue spotlight is the second animated feature, Pinocchio. As the follow up to the ground breaking Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs, in many ways the film was commercially more important to the future of the Walt Disney Company. Were the first film a failure, then nothing more would have been written but with the first being such a success, the pressure really went on to ensure that it did not prove to be a one-hit wonder as it were. 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.

    Whilst seriously doubting that there is anyone who does not know the story of Pinocchio, nonetheless I am obliged to provide a synopsis. Geppetto (Christian Rub) is a wood carver who has bought joy to many people with his work, and 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 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 brave, truthful and unselfish. Now, little boys and being brave, truthful and unselfish are almost mutually exclusive, and so it is for Pinocchio who faces all sorts of temptation - whilst heading to school on his first day of life no less. 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.

    Like so many films from this source, the story is very simple - although the Monstro whale bit never really seemed to me to make a great deal of sense within the overall flow of the story. Naturally the story has the copious amounts of patented Disney syrup applied, which does at times get a bit over the top. But at least this is almost original Disney syrup. Funnily enough however, the morals that they espouse actually need to bear frequent repetition 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. We have been enjoying him for sixty years (well, forty years in my case) and hopefully future generations will derive as much pleasure from this as we have.

    Interestingly, with the re-issue coming under the general Walt Disney Collection banner, the previously applied titling of "masterpiece" is now no more.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Much of what was said in the review of the original release of the film remains valid for this re-issue. The fact that this seems to be the same video transfer would suggest that a further re-issue down the line of a further restored version of the film is a possibility, as it is by no means in the league of Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs. Still, for a sixty year old film this is very good and remarkably little allowance has to be made.

    The transfer is presented in a Full Frame 1.33:1 format and is obviously not 16x9 enhanced.

    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. The latter point is amply evidenced around 26:30, where the "dirty window" look is very noticeable. 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. Overall detail is pretty good indeed considering the age of the film. There does not appear to be any real issue with low level noise in the transfer, suggesting that the problems mentioned regarding the earlier release were not as significant as was suggested.

    The colours really are the standout item here, both for good reasons and for bad reasons. First the bad reason: the colours fluctuate somewhat, lacking a little in consistency, which results in some fluctuation between a muted palette and a vibrant palette of colours. The fluctuations in the colour are not much of an annoyance to me, but some might find it more of an issue. 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 could do with being a little deeper in colour and consistency. 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, other than some very minor but rather consistent line aliasing. No big deal but there nonetheless. Film artefacts were hardly a problem either, which is quite surprising for a film of this age. The most obvious issues were the odd sections where there appeared to be residual spots on the film such as at 30:51.

    This is an RSDL formatted disc, with the layer change coming at 63:48. This is a well handled change, coming during a black scene change and is not at all noticeable and is certainly not disruptive to the film.

    There are quite a number of subtitle options on the DVD, but I stuck with the English and English for the Hearing Impaired efforts. Aside from the odd word dropped here and there, there is really nothing much wrong with them.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are four soundtrack choices on this DVD: a full bit rate English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, a Czech Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, a Greek Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and a Hungarian Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. Obviously I stuck with the soundtrack of my native tongue.

    The dialogue comes up well and is easy to understand. Of course there are the usual synching issues associated with this older animation.

    The musical score comes from the committee of Leigh Harline, Ned Washington and Paul J. Smith, and a d*** 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.

    "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". That's what I said in my review of the original release of Pinocchio on DVD.

    Well, we got the 5.1 remaster on this release and to some extent my fears regarding such an event have been founded. Whilst it has to be admitted that there is not a fat lot in the way of bass channel use, and the rear surrounds sound as if they are almost totally silent, the overall effect is to my mind a little gimmicky and certainly destroys the nature of the film. The bass channel kicks in suddenly on events like thunder and banging, but there is no subtle bass like in footsteps. This is why I suggest that the sound is gimmicky. There seems to be not much in the way of front surround activity and rather than getting a nicely spread sound across the front, it tends to be rather narrowly focused more towards the centre. This certainly is not the way I wanted to hear the sound and results in my disappointment with the soundtrack overall. The sound is quite open thanks to the higher bit rate but hardly ranks as a great demonstration of the art.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    This is another Special Edition reissue from Buena Vista, but like more than the odd one or two, the package is hardly one to make you sit up and take notice. Note that most extras do not have time-encoding - the Easter Egg being the exception - and the timings quoted are derived from PowerDVD. The video presentations are all in non-16x9 enhanced 1.33:1 Full Frame format and have Dolby Digital 2.0 sound.

Menu

    The main menu features some okay audio and animation enhancement, along with some audio enhancement that is also present on the sub-menu. Can't say that the quality of the main menu really enthrals, but maybe that is just me.

Game - The Search For Jiminy Cricket

    A rather banal game where you have a choice of three locations to investigate for three missing pieces of gear belonging to a certain well-known cricket. To actually get the chance to investigate, you have to answer a question correctly. Do everything correctly and you gain access to the place where the said cricket is hiding and you get to find him. Dead easy and pretty boring after two goes. As far as I can work out there are two sets of questions (I really was not going out of my way to check the deal out a third time). The reward for answering the questions right and finding Jiminy Cricket is an Easter Egg. Strictly for the younger set - and I would doubt that they would be that enthralled after a couple of plays. The game is technically okay although aliasing is something of an issue in movement.

Easter Egg - Animated Short: Cat Nap Pluto (6:35)

    This is the reward for successfully completing the game. Dating from 1948, the connection is that it stars Pluto and Figaro. The unrestored transfer is showing its age a little as it is well blessed with film artefacts. Nothing more than we would probably expect in a transfer of this age. Not a bad cartoon.

Featurette - A Wish Come True: The Making Of Pinocchio (5:02)

    Considering the importance of the film, this is a rather inadequate offering (I am being polite here!). Barely scraping the top of the barrel of what we would like to know about the making of the film, this almost descends to the level of EPK-style presentations. Whilst anything about the film would hardly be worthless, this is certainly no substitute for a proper look at the making of the film.

Sing-Along Song - Figaro & Cleo (1:32)

    Nothing special about this little effort, presumably lifted from one of the Sing-Along video tapes issued a while back. Judging by the rather ropey look to the video, it might well have been mastered from the video tape. The sound is a bit congested as well as being slightly hissy.

Sing-Along Song - Little Wooden Head (2:13)

    Very similar in style and quality to the previous effort, this actually suffers from some rather obvious interlacing problems. If anything, the sound is slightly hissier too.

Short Film - I'm No Fool Having Fun (8:20)

    For those that really hate the moralising that Disney often indulge in, this is going to annoy to the max! One of a series of "safety" animated films made in the 1950's, hosted by Jiminy Cricket, this really does get up my goat a bit. Obviously this one is about having fun in a safe and responsible manner. Well blessed with film artefacts, since it does hark from 1956, the program has not suffered the years lightly at all.

Short Film - I'm No Fool With Fire (7:59)

    Dating from 1955, this is perhaps less of an annoyance than the previous effort, but still a little too over-the-top to completely ignore the moralising. This effort is very similar in technical quality to the previous effort.

Storyboard Comparison (4:05)

    This looks at the scene where Geppetto comes down to the workshop to finish Pinocchio. Nothing that we have not seen before and really not that remarkable given how much the story is planned out before animation begins. Still, the storyboards are over sixty years old so it is worthwhile seeing just how detailed they were back then. Technically quite okay except for the distortion in the sound about halfway through the presentation.

Theatrical Trailer (1:53)

    About as good as we would expect for sixty years old, the whole presentation certainly makes sure that you know that this is the follow up to Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs! Not too bad.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    It would seem that Region 1 has not yet been blessed with an announcement of a Special Edition version of Pinocchio - at least it does not seem to be listed as being available to order on any of the major e-tailers. The comparison is therefore still against the earlier Gold Collection release. The Region 4 release would appear to miss out on:

    It would appear that the Region 1 release misses out on:

    Whilst I cannot imagine that it will remain the case for very long, clearly the current favoured release has to be the new Region 4 effort.

Summary

    "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". Obviously the comments made in the review of the previous Region 4 release are pretty much superfluous now. Whilst the video transfer remains much the same it seems, the audio transfer is certainly a change (for better or for worse I leave to you to decide) and the extras package has well and truly been boosted. Coupled with the reduction in the price, we now have the package that should have been issued in the first place - at least if we can forgive the 5.1 remaster! Whilst not in the league of its predecessor, Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio remains a good film that continues to provide entertainment sixty odd years on.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Monday, May 12, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-1600, using S-Video output
DisplaySony Trinitron Wega (80cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RXV-795
SpeakersEnergy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL

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