Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Pinocchio Part 16A

Given the later existence of Disneyland, this has to be one of the most ironic sequences in Disney. Pleasure Island has many of the features of the standard amusement park, such as a ferris wheel, merry-go-round and roller coaster, but of course it has other attractions such as the Rough House, the Model Home Open for Destruction and Tobacco Road. The film implies that there's a thin line between fun and delinquency, which may be why Disneyland management works so hard to control the visitors. Anarchy lurks just below the surface.

Lampwick strikes a match on the Mona Lisa and then throws a brick through a stained glass window. Pinocchio chops up a piano, in effect fulfilling Stromboli's threat of reducing a woodcarver's work to firewood! The Disney artists are exhibiting a form of elitism here. The worst things aren't how people treat each other, it's how they treat creative work.

Fred Moore's work in shot 2 communicates beautifully. Lampwick discards most of a chicken when something catches his attention. Pinocchio, impressionable as ever, goes along with Lampwick's desire to get into a scrap. He pitches his pie and ice cream and then the two of them strut into the tent. That strut is just amazing for the amount of attitude that Moore gets into it. Their chests and rears are stuck out, their elbows are rigid while their arms swing and they walk to the beat of the jazzy soundtrack. The two of them are all arrogant appetite with no thought for anyone other than themselves.

Don Towsley's Jiminy in shot 4 does a great job of showing how vulnerable Jiminy is. Surrounded by stampeding feet, he has to duck and weave to avoid being squashed. It would be easy for Jiminy to give up at this point, so it's a measure of his resolve that this time, he doesn't abandon Pinocchio.

We've seen the coachman use his whip on donkeys but now we see him use it on two-legged creatures. Those faceless figures who shut the door to the Island are some of the scariest things ever in a Disney film. Are they wearing hoods or are they monsters of some sort? We don't know and never find out a thing about them. It's part of the power of this film that there are scary things that we only get glimpses of. The implication is that the world is more evil than we know and if we're not careful we'll be sucked into horrors beyond our imagination, as Pinocchio is about to find out.

1 comment:

Pete Emslie said...

The irony of "Pleasure Island" even goes beyond what Walt later created with Disneyland. An actual entertainment complex was built at Walt Disney World in1989 called "Pleasure Island", geared towards young adults with its mix of nightclubs, and requiring a separate admission when it opened each evening. Just like its namesake, this "Pleasure Island" seemed to bring out the worst in some patrons, as there were frequent incidents there that required visits from the cops. Most ironic of all, however, was that most of the WDW Marketing execs (who never actually had watched Disney films) had no clue about the similarly titled attraction in "Pinocchio", and therefore never saw how life was imitating art.