Pinocchio (Two-Disc 70th Anniversary Platinum Edition + Standard DVD) [Blu-ray]
by Directors: Ben Sharpsteen & Hamilton S. Luske
Review by Charles Mohapel
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment Blu-ray ISBN/ITEM#: B001ILFUDM
Date: 28 March 2009 List Price $35.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Since I'm currently waiting for a new Blu-ray player to arrive, all I could review was the single DVD of Pinocchio. Fortunately, even this is chock full of goodies. Any time Disney takes one of its timeless classics out of the vaults, restores it, and re-releases it for a limited time period is quite simply the time to rush out and grab the the best version you can afford.
One final thought - I'm glad their artistic and restorations skills are vastly superior to their timekeeping. I say this because Pinocchio was originally released in 1940, making this the 69th Anniversary. But the Disney people sure do know how to throw a great birthday party.
It had been a long long time since I had seen Pinocchio and while my memory doesn't remember the movie being this vibrant (even the muted colors) or the audio being so clear, I know from having seen comparisons of the previous release against this version, the geniuses at Disney have performed their usual magic in bringing it back to life.
Watching Pinocchio again, I was able to focus on the story on the first viewing and the details on the second viewing. You see the beautiful detail in every frame created by Disney's Nine Old Men and their peers. The Nine Old Men were the core animators (some of whom later became directors) at Walt Disney Productions and their handiwork has earned them their well deserved place in the pantheon of animators. Not only does Carlo Collodi's timeless classic story from 1883 still resonate in the 21st century, but its animation still stands the test of time brilliantly.
Equally wonderful was "Backstage Disney", the audio commentary featuring famed movie critic Leonard Maltin (self-confessed lifelong Disney fan and animation buff), Disney animator/director Eric Goldberg (and self-confessed unashamed animation geek), and film historian J.B. Kaufman (also a lifelong Disney fan and working on a Pinocchio book at the time of this segment). Not only do they provide a fascinating view behind the scenes as Pinocchio was being made, you also get to hear audio segments with the voices of some of the people who actually worked on the film. Of these my favorites were the segments with Ward Kimball, one of the famed Nine Old Men.
One of my favorite tidbits was the story behind Evelyn Venable who voiced the Blue Fairy. It is rumored but not officially confirmed that this lovely actress served as the model for the torch lady for Columbia Pictures. In any case, she had a brief career in the 1930s and 1940s, then retired from acting, went back to school at UCLA, and eventually became a faculty member there, teaching ancient Greek and Latin.
In my opinion, buying Pinocchio for just the pristine quality of the the restored movie is worth it, but add "Backstage Disney" and the bonus features and you have an unqualified winner. But if you buy this Blu-ray combo pack, you get the 2 Blu-ray discs with even more goodies for viewing in the comfort of your home and a copy on DVD for your children to watch on those long road trips.