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March 24, 2009
Pinocchio Blu-Ray Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
24/10/194011/3/2009Walt DisneyHamilton Luske
Ben Sharpsteen
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
AVC MPEG-4DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1GCliff Edwards (voice)

THE MOVIE
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Geppetto puts the finishing touches on Pinocchio.
As you may be aware this release of Pinocchio is labeled as the 70th Anniversary Edition with that anniversary due next year. 70 years is a long time, just think about this... Pinocchio was made in the same year that colour television was first invented, around 30 years before the first microprocessor, 14 years before microwave ovens hit the shops, decades before modems, and 22 years before the first video game was invented.

Why am I telling you this? Well, I want readers to understand the painstaking work that went into Disney's movies in the 20th Century. Without computers every single frame had to be hand drawn and painted to create the animations. It was a painstaking process that took years to complete, but what we have here in Pinocchio is one of the most amazing animated movies ever.

In case you are unaware Pinocchio is loosely based on the 1883 story The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi. In that story the main character, Pinocchio, was quite evil. Walt Disney, sensing that the idea that Pinocchio killing Jiminy Cricket wouldn't be loved too much by movie goers, saw the movie be re-written to take its current form. In this tale you will join Geppetto's beloved puppet – with Jiminy Cricket as his conscience and guide – on a thrilling quest that tests Pinocchio's bravery, loyalty and honesty, virtues he must learn to become a real boy.

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Jiminy Cricket acts as the stories narrator.
This is a timeless tale and whether you're 8 or 80 years old you will get much enjoyment from this magical picture. What makes this film so magical are the wonderful characters. Every single one has a purpose, a personality and some tremendous lines. From the narrator Jiminy Cricket to the toy maker Geppetto to Pinocchio himself they are all engrossing characters. But the side characters are just as interesting. Figaro the cat has more amusing moments then any other character, Stromboli is a great evil character while the fairy is quite magical.

Showing how much time has passed since this movie was released there are some scenes that would probably not make it into a similar Disney movie these days, Pinocchio smoking a cigar for one. Another being the kicking of a cat - albeit in a comical fashion.

When Pinocchio was released in cinemas in 1940 it wasn't a commercial success grossing $US1.9 million against a production of $2.6 million. Unfortunately for Walt Disney World War II scuttled any plans for release in Europe, and dented prospects in many territories. Fortunately a later re-release proved highly successful and this second feature film from Walt Disney Studios is now considered a classic, and one of the studios biggest titles in its near 80 year history. Pinocchio is indeed one of the best animated movies of all time.

VIDEO
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Bringing Pinocchio to life...

Pinocchio comes to Blu-Ray in the films original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 (well, close enough to the originals aspect ratio of 1.37:1 according to IMDB) and uses the AVC-MPEG 4 codec. The movie maintains a quite high bitrate, often well into the 30Mbps range according to the PS3 we were running the disc on. There were absolutely no compression artifacts evident nor any sight of film artifacts. This is an ultra clean, ultra sharp image and dare we say with the restoration and clean up which Disney have performed, probably as good as the movie has ever looked.

Now, one of the issues which we have read about online is that Disney have 'removed' much of the colour of the movie for this release. Indeed if you have a look at the DVD release from a few years ago it does appear much more vibrant and colourful then this release. Let me make this clear though - this Blu-Ray release has been colour corrected to the original artwork and visual intentions. This is how the movie looked in cinemas in 1940, and this is exactly how it should be presented (this also goes for the aspect ratio - there never was a "widescreen" version - even in cinemas.

AUDIO
Pinocchio was originally released in cinemas with mono sound which was normal for the time. Going way over the top for this release - but something we'll still happily live with - Disney has graced this disc with a wonderful DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track. Now I wouldn't be using this as a reference quality disc - the audio is still very front heavy with infrequent use of surround sound and LFE channels. Still, we have to say that the movie has probably never sounded this good, and with some classic songs including "When I Wish Upon A Star" it doesn't get much better then this.

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Figaro the cat is a classic in Pinocchio.
Other languages on the Pinocchio Blu-Ray disc include Polish, Portuguese, Russian, and something else which may be Arabic (Disney haven't even put it on the cover for the disc) each encoded at 640kbps. Subtitles are also provided in each of those languages and samples of the English track didn't uncover any issues.

EXTRAS
As with all of Disney's Platinum DVD and Blu-Ray releases Pinocchio is choc full of extras to sink your teeth into. The set contains two Blu-Ray discs and a third disc which is a Digital Copy of the Film on DVD. There are some superb extras here so let's get started...

Cine-Explore Mode and Audio Commentary: We're bundling these two extras together as the audio track is, well, simply the audio found in the Cine-Explore track. In this track Leonard Maltin, Eric Goldberg And J.B. Kaufman talk about all aspects of this movie from the production to the concepts and storyline. In Cine-Explore as the commentary runs still images, or video footage is shown in windows around the screen. These often include sound bites or clips from other people associated with the film. Detailed, and quite brilliant.

Disney View (HD): This option allows you to view the movie with some paintings on the left and right of the image instead of the black bars. It doesn't add anything, but is a nice touch if you really hate "black bars" on your screen.

Music Video Meaghan Jette Martin sings "When You Wish upon A Star" (3:15/HD): Another crap teeny bopper tries to remake a classic song. Why even bother; rubbish and totally unnecessary.

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Pinocchio performs on stage.
Disney Song Selection (10:19/HD): The five songs from the movie can be selected here with optional subtitles so you can sing along.

Pinocchio's Matter of Facts: This is the pop-up trivia track which plays during the movie providing all sorts of details about the story, production and other trivia. Quite interesting.

Disney Smart Games: Pinocchio Knows Trivia Challenge: A rather entertaining trivia based game for one to four players. It would have been nice if you could speed up the questions though.

DISC TWO: So now we move onto Disc Two which contains even more content then the first, and almost everything of which really is quite brilliant. There is one disappointment with this disc, the fact that despite having several languages and subtitles, there is no English subtitle included.

No Strings Attached: The Making of Pinocchio (56:04/HD): This is a great look at the making of Pinocchio including having to follow up from Disney's first film Snow White, the way the story was adapted for the screen, and the troubles the filmmakers had in creating the film. Plenty of interviews with film historians, and even the artists that worked on the film. This is, though, a brilliant documentary worth a look. Annoyingly it defaults with French Subtitles turned on!?

Deleted Scenes (10:35/HD): After a short introduction we have three deleted scenes, including an alternate ending, which are presented in storyboard form. Interesting.

The Sweatbox (6:25/HD): A look at Walt Disney's use of The Sweat Box, or the preview screening room where the storyboards were presented in sequence. In fact Walt Disney was the first to use the preview screening room and had a stenographer take notes.

Live Action Reference Footage (9:57/HD): This featurette looks at the live action shooting for reference footage for Pinocchio. There's some great archival footage here.

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Colouring has been restored in Pinocchio.
Pinocchio Art Galleries (HD): Split into eight sections this contains over 200 images from the production and promotion of the movie.

Publicity (4:52): Three trailers are included; Original 1940 Theatrical Trailer, 1984 Theatrical Trailer and 1992 Theatrical Trailer. Unfortunately they are presented in Standard Definition.

Deleted Song "Honest John" (2:37): This deleted song is an interesting, and lively piece that would have fitted in quite well. Nice to have this on this disc.

Geppettos Then and Now (10:57/HD): An interesting look at how toy manufacturing has changed over the years from wooden carving to the latest Wall-E robot!

Games and Activities: Two games are included here - "Pinocchio's Puzzles" which is a jigsaw puzzle styled game, and "Pleasure Island Carnival Games" which is a series of mini-games. Aimed at youngsters and you really need a remote control with numbers on it for the Carnival games (the PS3 controller won't really work here).

OVERALL
Pinocchio is a timeless tale which everyone will love. The restoration and transfer quality here is stunning and there are a swag of extras for youngsters to adults to provide a few more hours entertainment. A brilliant release that should be in every collection.

Review By: Dave Warner

THE MOVIE
9/10
THE VIDEO
9/10
THE AUDIO
8/10
THE EXTRAS
9/10
OVERALL
9/10

Note: All images in this article are Copyright© Walt Disney. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.