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Blu-ray Reviews

HTF BLU-RAY REVIEW: Pinocchio: 70th Anniversary Platinum Edition

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#1 of 109 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted March 05 2009 - 02:58 PM

Pinocchio: 70th Anniversary Platinum Edition (Blu-ray)
Directed by Ben Sharpsteen, Hamilton Luske

Studio: Disney
Year: 1940
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:11080pAVC codec
Running Time: 88 minutes
Rating: G
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 English, Dolby Digital 1.0 English
Subtitles: English SDH
Region: A
MSRP: $ 35.99

Release Date: March 10, 2009
Review Date: March 5, 2009

The Film


With its combination of an amusing and engrossing story, brilliant and sophisticated animation, and a song score brimming with melody and invention, Pinocchio is undoubtedly a Walt Disney masterpiece. As timeless and flavorful today as it was when it was new, Pinocchio is no movie just for children. Its themes of temptation for the flashy and alluring, the need for family love and loyalty, and the necessity to think before acting are universal themes for all ages, and its mixed tone, both hilarious and eerily scary, give it a sophistication which all of Disney’s movies from its first decade of animated features were known for. This 70th Anniversary edition comes a decade after the film’s initial release on DVD. The Blu-ray edition is unmatched in its consummate look and sound for a genuine film classic.

Kindly woodcarver Geppetto (Christian Rub) wishes that the marionette he’s just carved and named Pinocchio (Dickie Jones) could be a real boy. That night, the Blue Fairy (Evelyn Venable) brings the puppet to life, but earning true flesh and blood status is something only he can achieve through honesty, diligence, and selflessness. Achieving those ends isn’t made easier when two con men including J. Worthington Foulfellow (Walter Catlett) first sell the innocent Pinocchio to puppet show maestro Stromboli (Charles Judels) and later to a coachman who takes a large group of boys to Pleasure Island where their shenanigans cause them to turn into jackasses. Pinocchio’s absence from home has caused Geppetto to go looking for him and has led him into a situation of ultimate danger, one only his “son” and his sidekick conscience Jiminy Cricket (Cliff Edwards) seem willing to attempt to rescue him from.

The set pieces that make up the film’s running time are each a little miracle unto themselves. The early scenes where we get to know the sweet, lonely Geppetto are among the film’s most priceless, especially when all of his hundreds of clocks reach the hour of nine and begin to chime in their own unique fashions, among the most delightful sequences in all of animation (capped by Geppetto‘s offhanded, droll remark wondering what time it is). The climactic Monstro the Whale sequence is vividly animated and remains one of the most terrifying dramatic scenes in all of the Disney canon, but no less frightening to smaller children (including me when I first saw the film) is the scene where the boys begin turning into animals, horrifying in its implications toward wrongdoers. The Oscar-winning score and songs by Leigh Harline, Ned Washington, and Paul Smith punctuate the action, from Jiminy’s (and later Disney’s) sincere theme “When You Wish Upon a Star” to Pinocchio’s introduction to puppet stardom in “I Got No Strings.” Geppetto’s “Little Wooden Head” and Jiminy’s “Give a Little Whistle” likewise reveal intricacies about character that make them necessary entities to the piece rather than songs merely sprinkled into the mix like so many raisins in cookie dough.

The multiplane camera gets quite a workout in several beautifully realized scenes in the picture. When we slowly zoom into the interiors of the village over rooftops and down cobblestone streets, it ceases to seem like animation any more, and the entire underwater section, even before we find the monstrous Monstro, is wonderfully different decades before The Little Mermaid or Finding Nemo made underwater scenes vivid, the effect intensified by the wonderful voice recordings that give a gurgling sound to the voice actors’ words. And speaking of voice actors, they are all magnificent. Dickie Jones is full of wonderment and spunk as the inquisitive Pinocchio. Cliff Edwards, one of the most popular performers in America throughout the 1920s and 1930s, gives Jiminy Cricket a feisty pluck that kept him a useful character for Disney to return to whenever he wanted a voice of reason and intelligence. (Many of us remember those “I’m No Fool” Disney shorts throughout our elementary school years.) Walter Catlett is the embodiment of the slick scoundrel while Charles Judels’ Stromboli is powerfully mean with a girth to match the fury in his voice when things don’t go right.

Video Quality


The film’s 1.33:1 theatrical aspect ratio is delivered here in a 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. It’s a remarkable transfer, filled with so much rich detail, mind-numbing colors of vast richness and purity, and not an artifact in sight: no dirt, no banding, no scratches. You’ll undoubtedly notice things for the first time with such depth of picture (some yellow edging on the red feather in Pinocchio’s cap or the white hairs inside Figaro’s ears, for example), and the visual range offered by such high resolution gives the picture quite often a three dimensional allure. The film has been divided into 24 chapters.

Audio Quality


The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track does offer some expanse to the original theatrical mono track (also provided in a restored encoding). Early on, the voices sound dry and a trifle trebly, but later on, that effect seems to have been smoothed out. Much of the film sounds mono apart from some music delivered to the surrounds at the beginning, but once the Monstro sequence begins, prepare for some rather impressive low rumblings, surprising from a film of this age. For the rest of it, the track is clean and the dialog in the center channel is always clear.

Special Features


Disc One contains the feature film which can be viewed in six different ways. The first is the standard fashion with black pillarbox bars on the right and left of the image.

The Blu-ray offers the Cine-Explore feature which is the video commentary featuring film historians Leonard Maltin and J.B. Kaufman and animator Eric Goldberg in pop-up windows offering not only their own anecdotes and commentary on the film but introducing a host of storyboards, stills, and clips from the Disney TV shows featuring animators who worked on the project offering their own expertise on their creations and Disney feature films with similar sequences in comparison to Pinocchio.

For those who wish an audio commentary without the pop-up windows, the viewer may choose that option.

For those who are bothered by the black pillarbox bars which are there during the playing of this Academy ratio film, Disney has provided Disney View, artwork panels that match the colors of the scenes as they play and extend to the sides of the widescreen TV. When the camera is stationary, the effect works acceptably, but once the camera begins to move (which is often), the panels become a real distraction. Some viewers who like their screens filled, however, may like them.

The viewer may choose to watch the film with Pinocchio’s Matter of Facts, pop-up facts about the film and other information of interest related to the original story.

The viewer may turn on a sing along mode which will turn on the subtitles during the five song sequences for viewers to sing with the characters.

Also on disc one is the music video of “When You Wish Upon a Star” sung by Disney Channel star Meaghan Jette Martin. It runs for 3 ¼ minutes.

“Pinocchio Knows Trivia Challenge” is a game for one or more players answering trivia questions about the film in an attempt to return Pinocchio’s nose to its normal size in the allotted time.

The disc is BD-Live compatible, but the network had not been turned on for the Blu-ray during the review period.

Disc Two contains a wealth of additional bonus features.

“No Strings Attached: The Making of Pinocchiois a 56-minute discussion covering every aspect of the behind-the-scenes work on this Disney classic. Archival footage along with current Disney animation experts offer up valuable information about the film’s two year production schedule. It’s presented in 1080i.

There are two deleted scenes and an alternate ending available for viewing. Each features an introduction and then storyboards for the sequences with voices and music to bring the sequence to life. Together these three scenes run 10 ½ minutes.

“The Sweat Box” is an interesting 1080p featurette about what went on in the small projection room housed at the old Disney Hyperion studio where Walt and the production team would watch story reels, rough animation, and dailies discussing the pros and cons of the work being done. A typical meeting is simulated (detailed notes were taken by a stenographer for these meetings) so the viewer can get a handle on how Disney and his team pieced these films together. It runs 6 ½ minutes.

There is a 10-minute reel of live action reference footage delivered in 1080p. Since the footage is silent, a narrator explains what’s happening in the footage, a quite fascinating featurette.

There are eight Pinocchio art galleries which the viewer may step through offering hundreds of pictures, single drawings, storyboards, models, video of the models turning, products, and live action reference shots.

Three theatrical trailers, all in 480i, can be chosen for viewing. They represent the original 1940 release (2 minutes), the 1984 (1 ½ minutes) and 1992 (1 ½ minutes) reissues.

There is one deleted song - “Honest John” - which is presented in a 2 ½-minute audio recording.

“Geppettos Then and Now” is an 11-minute featurette offering interviews with six international toymakers who construct everything from traditional wooden toys to computer-oriented ones, all describing their kinship to Geppetto and their views of making toys for a living. It’s in 1080p.

Two different game sections are offered. A simpler game is Pinocchio’s Puzzles, a multi-tiered jigsaw-type puzzle featuring six scenes from the film. Put the pieces in the correct spots and the scene from the film plays as a reward. More complicated is the Pleasure Island Carnival Games, four arcade games of increasing difficulty.

Disc three is a standard DVD version of the film.

In Conclusion

5/5 (not an average)

If your wish upon a star was that Pinocchio would arrive on Blu-ray disc in pristine condition and with a host of bonus features and a DVD copy of the movie, then your wish has come true. This Blu-ray set of a true cinematic masterpiece couldn’t come more highly recommended.

Matt Hough
Charlotte, NC

#2 of 109 OFFLINE   Richard Gallagher

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Posted March 05 2009 - 05:18 PM

Matt, Great review. It sounds like another must-have from Disney,
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#3 of 109 OFFLINE   Jason_V



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Posted March 06 2009 - 01:30 AM

Holy smokes. I was gonna pass on this next week because of the "hefty" price tag. Totally reconsidering that right now. Thanks Matt!

#4 of 109 OFFLINE   Frank Ha

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Posted March 06 2009 - 01:36 AM

Thanks Matt. I'll get this eventually. Hopefully, it'll eventually come down a little bit in price like Sleeping Beauty did. When it does I'll jump on it. Nice reviiew
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#5 of 109 OFFLINE   Mike Frezon

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Posted March 06 2009 - 01:55 AM

Matt: Sounds great! Thanks for the review. Just a few more days wait...

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#6 of 109 OFFLINE   Brian Borst

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Posted March 06 2009 - 02:08 AM

It really does look and sound gorgeous. I haven't gone around to the second disc yet but the audio commentary is excellent, although the PiP material does have problems. Sometimes the images only load up half, and go away abruptly instead of fading away. The player's not up to date, in terms of firmware, so that might be the problem.
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#7 of 109 OFFLINE   RDarrylR


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Posted March 06 2009 - 02:26 AM

Sounds like Disney comes through once again. I know that Sleeping Beauty on Blu-ray is an amazing package and I'll gladly pick up Pinocchio next week.

#8 of 109 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted March 06 2009 - 02:41 AM

I used the PS3 for this review, and I encountered no problems with the picture-in-picture windows as they popped up and went away.

#9 of 109 OFFLINE   Ethan Riley

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Posted March 06 2009 - 03:57 AM

You know what they should have done--they should have done a mini-doc of the Pinocchio's Daring Journey ride from Disneyland. They did a rather elaborate one for Sleeping Beauty. I know that was because they were pushing the return of that attraction to Disneyland, but it would have been nice to have a close-up look at the making of the Pinocchio ride too. I'm just sayin'...


#10 of 109 OFFLINE   Powell&Pressburger



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Posted March 06 2009 - 04:09 AM

NICE it contains the original and re-release trailers! I thought they nixed them.

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#11 of 109 OFFLINE   Greg Mariotti

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Posted March 06 2009 - 04:36 AM

sounds wonderful.. I sure wish they would include a feature about the Disneyland attraction...I really enjoyed that aspect of the Nightmare, Pirates, Sleeping Beauty and Little Mermaid releases....
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#12 of 109 OFFLINE   MatthewA


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Posted March 06 2009 - 05:09 AM

Sounds like another winner from Disney, and finally this magnificent classic has been done total justice on home video. Tuesday cannot come soon enough.

Enough is enough, Disney. No more evasions or excuses. We DEMAND the release Song of the South on Blu-ray along with the uncut version of Bedknobs and Broomsticks on Blu-ray. I am going to boycott The Walt Disney Company until then. And while you're at it, PLEASE stop dropping DVD/laserdisc extras from Blu-ray releases of other films.

#13 of 109 OFFLINE   DaViD Boulet

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Posted March 06 2009 - 08:27 AM

This Blu-ray Disc is just incredible. I received my screener yesterday and took it for a spin on my Panny BD55. No problems with any bonus features though I didn't check out BD Live. This is one of the FIRST "enhanced" remixed soundtracks that really, honestly, sounds better than the original in every way. I say that because so many other classics get noise-gated to get rid of "hiss" to the point that the audio loses all detail and high frequency sparkle. With Pinoc, they managed to retain all musical nuance, air, and detail during restoration/cleanup. Job well done. And what a picture...
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#14 of 109 OFFLINE   JakeLip


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Posted March 07 2009 - 07:03 AM

This is one of my favorite films ever made. I am glad to see that Disney is finally treating it right in terms of suppliments and can't wait to see it in hi-def. Thanks for the review. Question: Sleeping Beauty a DVD in a paper sleeve which was attached to the outside of the Blu-ray case with a type of rubbery glue which was difficult to remove. I'm hoping this release improved on that issue by simply making the case accomidate three discs and placing the DVD there. Can you confirm or deny this? Thanks.


#15 of 109 OFFLINE   Stephen_J_H


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Posted March 07 2009 - 07:06 AM

I'm assuming that's the case, as that's how Disney handled the packaging with HSM 3. It's a keep case width BD case with a double-sided insert in the middle.
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#16 of 109 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted March 07 2009 - 09:18 AM

The standard DVD of PINOCCHIO is indeed the third disc inside the case.

#17 of 109 OFFLINE   JakeLip


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Posted March 07 2009 - 12:21 PM

Exellent to hear they have rectified the Sleeping Beauty problem. Also, I am pleasntly surprised to hear they've still included the 1940 trailer, which means the old DVD is rendered obsolete. I was expecting to have to hang onto that for the trailer's sake because they forgot to port it over.


#18 of 109 OFFLINE   MatthewRu



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Posted March 07 2009 - 03:01 PM

Is the RKO title card on this blu-ray?

#19 of 109 OFFLINE   DaViD Boulet

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Posted March 07 2009 - 03:16 PM

Yes, it has the historic intro.
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#20 of 109 OFFLINE   onecent



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Posted March 08 2009 - 06:03 AM

Great review, Matt.

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