Friday, October 26, 2007

Pinocchio Part 31A

Pinocchio has successfully rescued Geppetto from inside the whale, but has seemingly died in the attempt. Since Pinocchio is physically whole, how can he be dead when he is able to breathe underwater? The film speeds past this, hoping the audience won't notice.

As in Snow White, the main character appears to be dead and the supporting characters cry over the body. I wonder if the story crew considered how similar the endings of the two films are? Later animated features made during Disney's lifetime would avoid the appearance of good guys dying at the climax except for Lady and the Tramp and The Jungle Book, and in those cases Trusty and Baloo were supporting characters, not the stars of the picture.

The Blue Fairy recedes as the picture progresses. We see her twice early in the film, but she disappears after freeing Pinocchio from Stromboli's birdcage. Her dove delivers the message about Geppetto and Monstro and her voice alone revives Pinocchio. Was this decision based on story concerns? Once Pinocchio starts taking positive action, would her presence detract from the danger and undercut Pinocchio's accomplishments? Perhaps it was simply done for economic reasons; losing a realistic character is a good way to save money.

When Pinocchio awakes, Geppetto once again deflates the potential sentimentality with humorous behavior in a Chaplinesque fashion. Inside Monstro, Geppetto kisses a tuna instead of Pinocchio. Here, he insists that Pinocchio is dead and must lie down before realizing the truth.

Pinocchio's transformation puts some distance between us and the character. Like the end of Disney's Beauty and the Beast, we've spent the whole film identifying with someone who is visually odd by the standards of his world but is accepted by us. Once the character becomes "normal" at the end, he's no longer someone we recognize. The character gains, but the audiences loses. Luckily, both films end very soon after the transformation occurs. Pinocchio, as a boy, appears in only 8 shots and the end of the film is given over to Jiminy and the wishing star, taking the film full circle.


TOFU said...

Eight months ago, almost to the day, Mark Mayerson began posting these mosaics and commentary on Pinocchio. It has been a great pleasure for me. Although I am not in the animation business, I have none-the-less appreciated all that Mark has shared. Now I can look at a screen shot of Jiminy (such as Scene 24 in Sequence 12) and recognize a Townsley Jiminy as opposed to a Kimball Jiminy.

I have dutifully copied each mosiac and commentary, so that I have a book-like binder that I will be able to enjoy in the future. I look forward to reading through the work from start to finish, once Mark tells us that he is indeed finished.

I must say, Mark's postings of Sequences 10.1 through 10.9 were as fast-paced as the action itself, and kept me on the edge of my seat almost as much as the film.

I thank you again for the time and effort you took.

If I may make one comment regarding the final sequence. You question Pinocchio's death ("how can he be dead when he is able to breathe underwater?"). I for one never thought that Pinocchio drowned. I always assumed that when Monstro smashed into the rocks, Pinocchio was dashed against the rocks with such force that the life was literally knocked out of him.

It is interesting to note that no Disney story book ever says that Pinocchio is "dead". The 1939 version reads, "...Pinocchio lying motionless" The 1939 Baruch version reads, "Pinocchio saved us but he is no longer alive" (they very curiously avoid the word "dead"). The Little Golden Book refers again to Pinocchio lying motionless. Even in the movie, nothing is said until Pinocchio is brought back to life, at which time it appears to be safe for Geppetto to say the word "dead" when refering to the puppet.

Again, thank you, Mark! You have so much information and so much insight, you could start all over again, choose different movie frames, make new comments, and delight us for another 8 months!

David Nethery said...

Yes, thank you so much for doing this , Mark.

It's been a grand learning experience, reviewing a film I thought I knew very well. I've learned some new things.

What's next? Up for another one ?

David Nethery said...

"Luckily, both films end very soon after the transformation occurs. Pinocchio, as a boy, appears in only 8 shots and the end of the film is given over to Jiminy"

And you just know that if they had done a direct-to-DVD cheapquel we would have scenes of the Real Boy Pinocchio trying to fit in at school , surrounded by a gang of multi-racial friends and a mean bully who learns a "valuable lesson in friendship and courage" from Pinocchio in the end.
(with unforgettable songs by Celine Dion)

And who would forget the "pre-teen angst confrontation scene" where Geppetto tells Real Boy Pinocchio that he can't stay out late for the school dance and puffy-eyed Pinoch yells at him "you're not my real dad!" and storms out , only to meet the evil Strombolina , the sorceress sister of Stromboli who lures Pinocchio to ... oh, well, you get the idea ...

Jenny said...

Terrific achievement, Mark.
Thanks a million for doing it, and doing it so well. This is my all-time favorite animated feature, and you've made it even more interesting with your analysis.

As someone wrote earlier these breakdowns are invaluable as it's fascinating and fitting to see who actually did what--and when that includes the occasional totally unsung animator, it's all the better.
I love that Ward gets the last piece of character animation in the movie: Jiminy's business of "winking" his medal up at the star is such a sweet gesture to go out on. With the night-sky shot and the swelling music, it can't be beat as a moving, uplifting ending.

Will Finn said...

Mark, i agree with your assesment of the transformation problem and it is clear that the PINOCCHIO is in a hurry to cut away from the character at that point.
I aways hated "real boy" Pinoke and had heard that the animators really struggled with this, going through multiple versions before it was a clear enough distinction. As proof, i actually found and bought a rough from what must have been an earlier (rejected) pass and although he is quite appealing indeed, the differences would be admittedly obscure to the general audience. i can send you a scan if you like.

Will Finn said...

mark-to save time i posted a scan on my blog along with links to your posts.
thanks for all the id work.

Galen Fott said...

It's maybe worth pointing out the distinction here that at the end of "Beauty and the Beast," the Beast is restored to what he was before. The true equivalent for Pinocchio would be, I suppose, being turned into a log. While the Beast returns to normalcy, Pinocchio becomes something he never was before. That makes it especially unsettling. I always felt a bit betrayed at the end of "Pinocchio," I think.

dmestiz said...

my 4yo said Jiminy Cricket should have been the one to say The End since Jiminy was telling the story to begin with...

rosscompose said...

The resurrection (or "not really dead but seems to be" syndrome is a recurring motif in Disney from Snow White to The Jungle Book. The sincerity and treatments vary but it is there in many of the classic features, and shorts like The Little House.