As our readers very well know the story of Pinocchio originates from a book by Italian author Carlo Collodi and today Italian Disney historian Nunziante Valoroso is happy to review for our Disneylicious readers the Italian Blu Ray edition of Disney’s Pinocchio, that is actually coming out in Italian stores on April 1st 2009 :

Walt Disney’s Pinocchio in Blu-Ray by Nunziante Valoroso
The huge success of Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs would have lead any producer to repeat the forumla right away. Walt Disney decided instead to make a film that was completely different for both style and atmosphere.

Pinocchio (1940) is inspired by the popular tale of Carlo Collodi and it’s considered by many one of the best animated pictures in the history of cinema. The multiplane camera, that spectacular machine that allowed to film backgrounds paintings on separate levels to obtain perspective effects, found in this film its ideal use and many sequences, such as the opening one in which the wishing star gets closer to Geppetto’s house, still remain unequalled.

 The backgrounds were oil painted (those for Snow White were aqua painted) to recreate at least in part the dark and heavy
atmospheare of the original tale.

The long plot by Collodi, coming to life as a series of episodes, was heavily shortened, the talking cricket was turned into the puppet’s official conscience and the Blue Fairy, brilliantly animated, becomes the character that always moves ahead the plot.

Taking place in an alpine Tyrolean village (disappointing at the time of the release the Italian public, including Collodi’s
newphew Paolo Lorenzini) the film was a great artistical success, if not commercial.

The movie grossed lower than expected due to the fact that war matters prevented distribution on international markets and it started to recuperate only with the following re-releases. In Italy the film should have been presented in 1940 (Apparently Mussolini attended a private screening) but then the release was blocked and Italians had to wait until December 1947, when the picture was distributed with a great promotional campaign by RKO. The Italian dubbing by CDC presents some of the most talented voices of all times: among them  Carlo Romano (Jiminy Cricket), Lydia Simoneschi (The Blue Fairy) and Mario Besesti (Stromboli). Riccardo Billi sang in the opening titles the song that would become the official Disney song, the oscar winning "When you wish upon a star". 

The BLU-RAY release
Disney continues the prestigious series of platinum editions in High Definition with a formidable title for both quality and rendition. Scanned digitaly right from the original Technicolor negative Pinocchio becomes an absolutely essential title for all fans of the Blu Ray disc. The image format is 1,37:1 (anamorphic with side black stripes) and there is no trace of any kind of grainy effect.Its rendition is virtually superior to the Technicolor prints of the time of the film’s original release.

Four soundtracks can be found on the Italian disc, English (DTS HD Master 7.1) Italian, Spanish and Dutch, all in DTS 5.1. The original Italian soundtrack of the  time has been magnifically restaured and it’s incredible listening to it in DTS thinking it was actually recorded 62 years ago.

The animated menus are indeed very nice, starting from the first one, that gives the spectator a hint of what’s coming, showing Geppetto’s workshop, being initially dark, shady and dusty (with an old gramophone syle audio), becoming, with a touch of magic wand, shiny and new with the splendor of the surround  sound.
Besides the standard vision of the film it is possible to enjoy it using the "Disney View" option, that inserts on the black lateral stripes some backgrounds that change with the different scenes, created by Disney artist Toby Bluth.

The selection of special features is rich and satisfactory: On disc 1 we have the chance to choose to watch the film’s songs only and an exclusive music  video of "Una Stella Cade" (When You Wish Upon A Star) by Eugenio Bennato (It is interesting to note that the Italian edition is the only one to have an exclusive music video while for all the other languages the only music video available is the the original US one performed by Meaghan Jette Martin).

An audio commentary to the film by film critic Leonard Maltin, historian J.B. Kaufman and animator Eric Goldberg is also available and it is also possible to watch the film with some added "pop ups" reporting tidbits and tales about its making.

The "pièce de résistance" of disc one are indeed the "Cine Explore" feature, that enriches the film vision with pop up footage and images and a video version of the audio comment also available entirely dubbed into Italian.
On disc 2 we find and interesting "making of" featurette, that covers every aspect of the film making using vintage photos and interviews; a series of  deleted scenes are reconstructed using original storyboards; an alternate ending; the usual series of interactive games; a documentary recreating how Walt Disney was used to review pencil animated scenes in his private screening room; some magnificent galleries of images and video (it is possible to look at the characters’ models at 360°); three “trailers”; some footage with live takes used as reference material and finally a cute documentary, "Geppetto Now and Then" in which some toy makers and collectors are being interviewed.

The majority of these extras are in HD. Obviously my personal advice to anyone is to get this release as soon as possible.

Nunziante Valoroso

Translation from Italian by – To read this review in its original language please click HERE