Saturday, March 17, 2007

Pinocchio Part 4A

First, I want to address a definite omission in the draft and a probable omission. The scene between 20 and 33 is not listed in the draft. It's possible that the Jiminy animation is by Don Towsley, who did the preceding two Jiminy shots, but immediately after the mystery shot we have Jiminy done by Bernie Wolf, John Elliotte and Ward Kimball. As the mystery shot doesn't hook up at its head or tail with other shots, it could be animated by any of the above. It is likely that Cornett Wood animated the snapping violin string.

The probable omission is scene 38. George Rowley is listed twice for scenes such as scene 36, and I'm guessing it's because he handled the clock characters as well as the shadow animation. Scene 38 is the only scene with the clock characters where Rowley isn't credited and I suspect that's an omission. Kimball was too valuable to assign to mechanically moving characters and there is no reason why scene 38 should be different than the surrounding scenes.

We have three sequences in a row where Pinocchio is basically a blank slate. In the first, he comes to life. In this sequence, his relationship with Jiminy is solidified. In the next sequence, Pinocchio finally meets Gepetto. The problem, as has been pointed out by Michael Barrier, is that Pinocchio is a completely passive character and that reduces the dramatic interest. Pinocchio isn't in conflict with anything or anybody because he has no opinions and there is no threat to him, except for playing with fire in the next sequence.

Disney commented during the making of Snow White that they had to spend the time so that the audience could get to know the characters. This is what's happening here as well. The whole first act of the film is spent introducing the characters and their relationships. The dramatic conflict doesn't enter into the film until the second act.

As I go through the draft, my admiration for the lesser-known animators keeps on increasing. I always assumed that Kimball was responsible for Jiminy's song here, but Don Towsley does Jiminy's scenes on the violin and Bernie Wolf handles a particularly goofy Jiminy in scene 33. John Elliotte starts Jiminy's lecture to Pinocchio and contributes one shot to the song. All of them have the ability to create poses that are as pleasing as Kimball's and their work is really not distinguishable from his in terms of drawing or timing. Thanks to the draft, we can finally appreciate their work.

Pinocchio doesn't have a lot to do here, but he is very appealingly drawn by Ollie Johnston. There's a pudginess to Pinocchio's face and a tilt to his eyes that make him an attractive looking character. While Milt Kahl designed Pinocchio, when I compare Johnston's drawings to Kahl's in the previous sequence, I much prefer Johnston's. His proportions are more pleasing. Harvey Toombs handles a couple of shots of Pinocchio trying to whistle. Kahl takes the final shot of the sequence, which he handles beautifully, contrasting Pinocchio's confident march with his clumsy, off-balance fall after getting tangled up in the paint pots.

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