Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser
It’s no lie to say Pinocchio pulls on your heart strings
This review is dedicated to the memory of veteran Disney animator Frank Thomas, who generously encouraged my passion for animation and collecting Disney stills and posters.
The images here from Pinocchio were courtesy of this brilliant craftsman.
One of the most eagerly anticipated events at Christmas in the 1950s and 60s was the return engagements of Disney classics at the Monklands cinemas in Airdrie and Coatbridge.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) may have provided Walt Disney with his finest moment, but Pinocchio is probably his greatest film.
It shares in all the qualities that made Snow White such a huge success and adds to them a technical brilliance that has never been surpassed.
Pinocchio is one of Disney’s most visually innovative films and also his meatiest animated feature.
The movie has some of the most terrifying scenes of any Disney adventure. It contained a cast of five colourful villains, all males who delay Pinocchio’s journey to righteousness in becoming a real boy.
The plot of Pinocchio required extensive adaptation from the 1883 Italian children’s story by Carlo Collodi, The Adventures of Pinocchio, to make it suitable for the screen.
Disney added imaginative and creative touches to the tale of the puppet, brought to life by the Blue Fairy, who can only become a real boy by proving himself brave, truthful and honest.
Jiminy Cricket becomes Pinocchio’s friend and conscience to guide the puppet in his mission down the straight and narrow path, beautifully expressed in the song Give A Little Whistle.
The film has a traditional storybook opening, introduced by Jiminy Cricket singing the Oscar-winning song When You Wish Upon A Star, which would become the signature tune for Disney. The animation and voice characterisations in Pinocchio are superb and it’s no surprise it won an Oscar for its delightful, engaging musical score.
It reached new heights in inventiveness, combined with layout drawings that are extremely beautiful – and the same can be said for the background paintings.
This creative process is all
largely due to the extensive use of Disney’s Multiplane Camera. The huge vertical camera gave depth to an animated film by using layers of backgrounds painted on glass; it could hold up to six background layers.
The camera was first used in 1937’s Silly Symphony The Old Mill, and its creators received a special scientific and technical
category Academy Award. It was also used in other animated features in the 1940s, such as Bambi and Fantasia.
After three years in production at an estimated cost of $2.5 million, Pinocchio was released in February 1940. This was just five months after the outbreak of World War II and the film was not an immediate success, as
the European market was cut off, losing Disney a vital source of revenue.
Nevertheless, Pinocchio went on to be hugely successful, both critically and financially, performing admirably in future reissues.
In 1955 it opened at the New Cinema Airdrie, with a special Boxing Day matinee. I adored
this masterpiece and have been hooked ever since.
Pinocchio returned to Monklands once again in 1961 at the Pavilion Cinema in Airdrie. This was also during the festive season, much to my delight and that of many local kids who were treated to a sensational double feature program that included the premiere of Disney’s classic
true-life, live-action adventure feature Nikki Wild Dog Of The North.
Disney’s films were rich in simple truths, and moral values. They were not only inspirational but had a tremendous emotional impact as well.
We can’t have the golden age of cinema back, but we can be reminded of the silver screen.