By: Reel Dialogue
Pinocchio has been at the heart of our consciences ever since Italian author Carlo Collodi penned the series that would become The Adventures of Pinocchio.
A classic work that has gone through many interpretations over the decades, but remains one of the best interpretations of the human condition in children’s literature. When Walt Disney’s team released the story in 1940 as an animated adventure, it received high praise. Still, it suffered at the box office since it was released at the beginning of World War II. Despite all of this, the tale of the wooden marionette would become a classic film, and its theme song would eventually become the anthem for the Disney corporation.
In this current trend at the House of Mouse of turning their animated treasures into live-action features, it was only a matter of time before Jiminy Cricket and crew would be re-animated for modern audiences. Due to his groundbreaking vision in animation and Academy-Award-winning outings, Robert Zemeckis (The Polar Express, Forrest Gump) was brought on as the director. This may have been why Tom Hanks came on to play the puppet’s woodworking father, Gepetto, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Inception) chose to portray the wooden boy’s conscience. They all will lead audiences to have high expectations of the latest release on Disney+. This production goes to great lengths to re-enter the familiar toymaker’s workshop that allows for a magical night after the aged craftsman wishes upon a star.
This updated version does bring back many of the colourful characters of the story, such as Honest John (Keegan-Michael Key), Stromboli (Giuseppe Battiston), and Pleasure Island’s Coachman (Luke Evans). It also introduces some new cast members who give this version a feminine and diverse flare that does not distract from the original storyline. Even though it takes some time for things to get going, everything eventually begins to move in fast-forward, as the filmmaker does all he can to deliver the life lesson that remains at the heart of this toy’s desire to be a real boy. There is no questioning that the animation is outstanding and with each film Disney has managed to blur the lines of reality and imagination. Many families may play the game of trying to see which Disney classics are even acknowledged in Gepeto’s workshop.
Those who can still remember seeing the 1940 animated marvel may notice significant differences that can be chalked up to modern audiences’ taste. Yet, most of the film stays faithful to the look and feel of the original, almost to a fault. Over the years, many look back at this film as one of Disney’s darker options and Zemekis stays true to the scarier elements of Carlo Collodi’s story. Yet, one surprising choice was not as frightening as it was odd. They decided to maintain the musical component of the script. This is strange since the only performers with singing abilities are Cynthia Erivo, who plays the Blue Fairy, and the voice actor Benjamin Evan Ainsworth in the title role. For the audience’s sake, the rest of the cast should have been given a pass on introducing songs to the screenplay. The live-action version may appeal to Pinocchio’s fans by bringing all of these components together. Still, it may struggle to appeal to the imaginations of modern audiences.
What Should Parents Know About Pinocchio?
Before Lemony Snicket and Goosebumps, this morality tale set the standard for exposing the darker side of the human heart to children. All will be familiar to those who grew up seeing this movie being re-released regularly in theatres before the onset of DVDs and streaming. Be sure to remember that younger audiences may be frightened by the eerie sides of Stromboli’s stage show and may fail to understand the symbolism of Monstro the sea monster as they hide under a pillow. These elements are still confronting and may lead to more nightmares than entertainment for the under-five-year-old set. Yet, if parents want to expose their children to a harsh life lesson that centres on the importance of telling the truth and keeping from selfishness, this might be a good choice.
Reel Dialogue: Family Talking Points After the Film
“Lies beget more lies: once you start lying you have to keep lying more and more to hide the lies that you already told.”
You may be able to hear the words of your mother on the topic of lying. One lie can begin a chain of events that only come to a resolution when the truth comes out. ‘Do not lie’ is not exclusive to the Bible. Still, it is a moral code that can save relationships and reputations. In the case of Pinocchio, it could keep you from turning into a donkey.
Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight. – Proverbs 12:22
Article supplied with thanks to City Bible Forum.
All images: Movie Publicity
About the author: Russ Matthews is a film critic at City Bible Forum and Reel Dialogue. He has a passion for film and sparking spiritual conversations.