Friday, July 29, 2011


It’s Film Strip Friday!
Release Date February 23rd, 1940
Lonely toymaker Geppetto has his wishes answered when the Blue Fairy arrives to bring his wooden puppet Pinocchio to life. Before becoming a real boy, however, Pinocchio must prove he's worthy as he sets off on an adventure with his whistling sidekick and conscience, Jiminy Cricket. From Stromboli's circus to Pleasure Island, Pinocchio is tested by many temptations, but slowly learns how to navigate right from wrong. With a few mishaps along the way, Geppetto's "little woodenhead" finally gets it right, proving that when you wish upon a star dreams really can come true!
       Production started in 1937 as work on Snow White was completed.       It is the 2nd feature length animated movie Disney made.
       Originally Pinocchio was to be made after Bambi. Disney found that it was harder than anticipated to design and animate Bambi so he moved Pinocchio up.
       In early drafts the movie used many characters and plot points from the original story. Walt Disney decided that there needed to be a major reworked for it to work. Production was stopped and characters and plot reworked.
       In the original story Pinocchio is a wise cracking puppet/boy, rambunctious and always looking for trouble. The original design for Pinocchio was done in the same way. He looked more like a puppet than a little boy with wooden hands and a pointed nose. Disney felt people would not connect with him and fell for his plight. Pinocchio was redesigned so he looked more like a little boy and given gloves. His personality was changed to make him a character that would invoke more sympathy that people would root for.
Designer and lead animator Milt Kahl had to redesign the puppet as much as possible. Eventually, they revised the puppet to make him look more like a real boy, with, among other things, a button nose, a child's Tyrolean hat, and standard cartoon character 4-fingered (or 3 and a thumb) hands with Mickey Mouse-type gloves on them. Milt quoted, "I do not think of him as a puppet, I think of him as a little boy". The only parts of him that still looked more or less like a puppet were his arms and legs. In this film, he is still led astray by deceiving characters, but gradually learns bit by bit and is depicted as innocent, naive, somewhat coy and exhibits a good heart. For example when he is offered to go to Pleasure Island he inquires he needs to go home several times, before Honest John and Gideon pick him up themselves and carry him away.
       During the reworking of the plot and characters Jiminy Cricket character became a central part of the story. Before this Jiminy was a minor character. When Jiminy’s part was expanded, he was depicted as an actual (that is, less anthropomorphized) cricket with toothed legs and waving antennae. Walt once again wanted a more likable character. He assigned Ward Kimball the job and a reward for his hard work on Snow White that did not make it into that film. Ward was about to quit until Walt gave him Jiminy as an assignment. Ward redesigned him as a little man with an egg shaped head and no ears. The only reason we know him as a cricket is he is call one.
       Pinocchio was the first movie to use famous celebrities as voice actors. Pinocchio was voiced by child actor Dickie Jones who had recently been in Mr Smith Goes to Washington.Cliff Edwards, a popular singer of the time was chosen to be the voice of Jiminy. He was already known for introducing the song “Singing In The Rain”. He also worked on Broadway and in Movies. Foulfellow the Fox was voiced by Shakespearean actor Walter Catlett. Christian Rub played Geppetto and the design of the character was even a caricature of rub. Other actors include Charles Judels, Evelyn Venable and Frankie Darro.
       Mel Blanc was hired to do the voice of Gideon the Cat, Foulfellow the Fox’s sidekick. It was later decided to make Gideon mute like Dopey. All of his recorded dialogue was deleted. That is all except one solitary hiccup. The hiccup was three times in the film.
       While work was being done on Pinocchio the Model Department was set up. The Model Department makes Maquettes, clay models of the characters to give the animators a three dimensional model to look at when drawing. Besides Maquettes of the characters them made working models of Geppetto’s cuckoo clocks as well as Stromboli’s Gypsy wagon and the Coachman’s carriage. It is difficult to animate a realistic moving vehicle. So the wagons were filmed on a miniature set using stop motion animation. After the carriages were filmed Photostats (pictures of every frame of the animation) were made, then ink and paint the Photostats onto animation cels and overlay the cels with those of the characters on the rostrum camera.
       Pinocchio used many special effects, it was ground breaking in its achievements. Anything that is not characters or background is animated by Effects Animators. They are responsible for, smoke from fires and cigars, shadows, magic effects, and water, no matter where or what the water is. From rain, waves and splashes from the ocean none of it  had been attempted at this level of realism before Pinocchio. Pinocchio is still the standard film for effects animation.
       Pinocchio was a success in the United States alone. International box office results were poor due to the film’s release in Europe and Asia was delayed because of World War II and the aftermath of the war. The budget for the film was $2,289 million and Disney recouped only $1,423 million of the film’s cost.
       Overall good reviews were given for the movie. Archer Winsten, who had criticized Snow White wrote: “The faults that were in Snow White no longe exist. In writing of Pinocchio you are limited only by your own power of expressing enthusiasm.” Jiminy Cricket’s snog, “When You Wish Upon a Star”, became a major hit and is still identified with the fim, and later as a fanfare for The Walt Disney Company itself. Today the first nine notes of the song are used as the signature fog horn for all the Disney Cruise Line Ships. Pinocchio also won the Academy Award for Best Original Song and the Academy Award for Best Original Score, making it the first Disney film to win not only either Oscar, but also both at the same time. Mary Poppins was the next to win both in 1964 and The Little Mermaid won them in 1989. Pinocchio was added to the United States National Film Registry as being deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

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