Pinocchio is a substantial piece of entertainment for young and old. Both animation and photography are vastly improved over Walt Disney’s first cartoon feature, Snow White. Animation is so smooth that cartoon figures carry impression of real persons and settings rather than drawings.
Extensive use of the Disney-developed multiplane camera (first used moderately for Snow White) provides some ingenious cartoon photography, allowing for camera movement similar to dolly shots. Most startling effect is the jumpy landscape as seen through the eyes of a leaping Jiminy Cricket.
Opening is similar to Snow White, establishing at the start that this is a fairy tale. Jiminy, witty, resourceful and effervescing cricket, displays the title cover and first illustrations of the book with a dialog description introducing the old woodcarver, Geppetto, and his workshop. Place abounds with musical clocks and gadgets, pet kitten and goldfish – and the completed puppet whom he names Pinocchio. Geppetto’s wish for a son on the wishing star is granted when the blue fairy appears and provides life for the puppet; with Jiminy Cricket appointed guardian of latter’s conscience. Pinocchio soon encounters villainous characters and his impetuous curiosity gets him into a series of escapades.
Cartoon characterization of Pinocchio is delightful, with his boyish antics and pranks maintaining constant interest. Jiminy Cricket is a fast-talking character providing rich humor with wisecracks and witticisms. Kindly old Geppetto is a definitely drawn character while several appearances of Blue Fairy are accentuated by novel lighting effects. Picture stresses evil figures and results of wrongdoing more vividly and to greater extent than Snow White, and at times somewhat overplays these factors for children. This is minor, however.
1940: Best Song (‘When You Wish Upon a Star’), Original Score