Pinocchio (1940)

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Pinocchio (1940)
Genre: Animated
Photography: Color
Running Time: 88 minutes
Country: United States
Release Date: February 9, 1940
Directed by: Hamilton Luske
Ben Sharpsteen
Written by: Ted Sears
Otto Englander
Webb Smith
William Cotterell
Joseph Sabo
Erdman Penner
Distributed by: RKO Radio Pictures
Starring: Dickie Jones
Cliff Edwards
Christian Rub
Evelyn Venable
Walter Catlett
Charles Judels

Pinocchio is a 1940 animated film, and the second entry on the official Walt Disney animated canon. It was based on the children's book of the same name by Carlo Collodi.

Pinocchio was a groundbreaking achievement in the area of effects animation, giving realistic movement to vehicles, machinery and natural elements such as rain, lightning, smoke, shadows and water.


A lonely old carpenter named Geppetto builds himself a wooden puppet, and one night wishes that it would come to life so that he could have something resembling a real son. That night, a fairy visits Geppetto's workshop and animates him, promising that he'll someday become a real boy if he proves himself worthy, and assigns an insect named Jiminy Cricket to act his his guide. Despite Jiminy's best efforts, Pinocchio gets involved in a series of misadventures, including being forced to act in a sadistic puppeteer's show, finding himself in a cursed amusement park that transforms its visitors into donkeys, and then trying to rescue Geppetto from the stomach of a monstrous whale.

Why it Rocks

  1. Takes all the best elements of the original book, and turns them into a more focused storyline.
  2. The animation's every bit as good as you'd expect from Disney.
  3. Nearly all of the main characters are memorable in their own right. In particular, it has some of the best villains in any Disney animated film.
  4. Despite being a wooden puppet come to life, Pinocchio is actually a very realistic character, being more willing to be naughty when influenced by others instead of being incorruptibly pure from the start to the end of the movie.
  5. The darker tone makes it really stand out among the Disney canon. In particular, none of the villains (with the possible exception of Monstro, if you actually count him as a villain) are really punished in any way.
  6. Great songs, with "When You Wish Upon a Star" being a stand-out.
  7. Despite the generally darker tone compared to the rest of the Disney canon, there are still plenty of good jokes throughout.
  8. Nice ending, with Pinocchio sacrificing himself to save his "father" and Jiminy, and being rewarded by being brought back to life as a real boy.

Bad Qualities

  1. A few scenes, particularly Lampwick's transformation into a donkey, may be a little too intense for younger viewers.
  2. It features kids smoking (and drinking) which is pretty inappropriate for a family film (though to be fair, people were still deciding what was suitable for children and what wasn't at the time).


Like several of Disney's other films in the early 1940s, Pinocchio was well-reviewed, but a box office disaster and an overall financial failure due to World War II preventing any wide release outside of North America.

Critical analysis of Pinocchio identifies it as a simple morality tale that teaches children of the benefits of hard work and middle-class values. Although it became the first animated feature to win a competitive Academy Award – winning two for Best Music, Original Score and for Best Music, Original Song for "When You Wish Upon a Star" – it was initially a box office disaster. It eventually made a profit in its 1945 reissue, and is considered one of the greatest animated films ever made, with a 100% rating on the website Rotten Tomatoes. The film and characters are still prevalent in popular culture, featuring at various Disney parks and in other forms of entertainment. In 1994, Pinocchio was added to the United States National Film Registry for being deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". A live-action adaptation of the film is currently in development.

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