Pinocchio: Signature Collection Blu-ray Review

Despite the digital scrubbing, it's still a masterpiece. 4.5 Stars

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.

Pinocchio (1940)
Released: 23 Feb 1940
Rated: APPROVED
Runtime: 88 min
Director: Norman Ferguson, T. Hee, Wilfred Jackson, Jack Kinney, Hamilton Luske, Bill Roberts, Ben Sharpsteen
Genre: Animation, Comedy, Family
Cast: Mel Blanc, Don Brodie, Walter Catlett, Marion Darlington
Writer(s): Carlo Collodi (from the story by), Ted Sears (story adaptation), Otto Englander (story adaptation), Webb Smith (story adaptation), William Cottrell (story adaptation), Joseph Sabo (story adaptation), Erdman Penner (story adaptation), Aurelius Battaglia (story adaptation)
Plot: A living puppet, with the help of a cricket as his conscience, must prove himself worthy to become a real boy.
IMDB rating: 7.5
MetaScore: N/A

Disc Information
Studio: Disney
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audio: English 7.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 5.1 DD, Other
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Rating: G
Run Time: 1 Hr. 28 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray, DVD, Digital Copy
Case Type: keep case in a slipcover
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Region: ABC
Release Date: 01/31/2017
MSRP: $39.99

The Production: 5/5

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 importance of family love and loyalty, and the need for thinking before acting are universal and for all ages, and its mixed tones, 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 new Signature Collection edition comes almost eight years after the film’s initial release on Blu-ray. This new Blu-ray edition recycles the former video and audio transfer (with fixes in the original audio as released) and adds a few rather negligible bonus features to some of the carried-over material from previous Blu-ray and DVD releases.

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, truthfulness, 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 leading 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 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 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 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 pluckiness 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.) Christian Rub is a miracle of kindness and resolve as Geppetto while 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, and he does double duty as the nefarious Coachman who takes the malicious boys to their doom on Pleasure Island.

Video: 4.5/5

3D Rating: NA

This 1.33:1 1080p (AVC codec) transfer seems to be the same one utilized in the 2009 Blu-ray issue of the film. DNR has scrubbed away any trace of grain and left in a place or two evidence of a little busyness where things were digitally tempered. On the plus side, there isn’t a sign of age here with mind-numbing colors of vast richness and purity (reds may be a trifle hot) and not an artifact in sight: no dirt, no banding, no scratches. For those who haven’t seen it in a while, 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), and the dimensionality offered by such high resolution gives the picture quite often a three-dimensional allure. The film has been divided into 24 chapters.

Audio: 4/5

The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track does offer some expanse to the original theatrical mono track (also provided in a restored encoding in Dolby Digital 1.0). 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: 4.5/5

The film may be viewed in three ways. The original theatrical version, the movie with the black pillarboxing bars replaced with artwork by Toby Bluth (called DisneyView), or in Sing Along mode with subtitled lyrics during the songs.

The Pinocchio Project: “When You Wish Upon a Star” (HD): a behind the scenes look at the production of a new music video of the song featuring Alex G, Tanner Patrick, and JR Aquino. The final music video itself runs 2:49.

Walt’s Story Meetings: Pleasure Island (7:14, HD): Pixar director Pete Docter and Disney historian J. B. Kaufman discuss Disney’s process of putting together sequences for the animated classics. A recreation of Walt’s suggestions for the Boobyland sequence (later renamed Pleasure Island) is also presented.

In Walt’s Words (4:48, HD): archival recordings from 1956 present Walt Disney’s recollections on the making of the movie and the problems it generated for his studio.

Oswald the Lucky Rabbit in Poor Papa (5:19, HD): the 1927 silent cartoon with synchronized music score and sound effects.

No Strings Attached: The Making of Pinocchio (56:09, HD): a 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.

Deleted Scenes (10:33, HD): two deleted scenes and an alternate ending are available for viewing. Each features an introduction and then storyboards for the sequences with voices and music to bring the sequence to life.

The Sweat Box (6:25, HD): a 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.

Geppettos Then and Now (10:57, HD): a 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.

Reference Footage (9:57, HD): live action reference footage of an actor impersonating Jiminy Cricket. Since the footage is silent, a narrator explains what’s happening in the footage.

Theatrical Trailers (SD): 1940 trailer (1:52); 1984 reissue (1:25); 1992 reissue (1:33)

“When You Wish Upon a Star” Music Video (3:14, HD): sung by Disney Channel star Meaghan Jette Martin.

The Making of Pinocchio (5:06, SD): brief original featurette on the film’s production.

Storyboard-to-Film Comparison (4:04, SD): split screens are used to show mock-ups of storyboards to a few animated sequences.

Promo Trailers (HD): Beauty and the Beast (2017), Moana.

DVD/Digital Copy: disc and code sheet enclosed in the case.

Overall: 4.5/5

If your wish upon a star is that Pinocchio would come back into print on Blu-ray disc in its previous excellent condition and with many (but not all) of its previous bonus features intact, your wish has come true. You’ll be missing the Cine-Explore feature, a trivia pop up feature, and some games and puzzles which were on the previous release. Nevertheless, this Blu-ray set of a true cinematic masterpiece couldn’t come more highly recommended.

Published by

Matt Hough

author,editor

38 Comments

    1. Hi, Matt. I have the original Blu Ray of PINOCCHIO, but I wasn’t aware of a “Corrected Version.” Please explain.

      btw, the problem I had with the Blu-Ray of PINOCCHIO wasn’t the “digital scrubbing” but the fact that the colors had been “brightened.” All one has to do is compare the trailer on the Blu-Ray, which has the original “dark” color palette as originally designated by Walt Disney himself, and look at the same images on the film. Dark greens and reds are suddenly lime and day-glo scarlet, which really destroys the emotional resonance of the film. I’m assuming those altered colors are the same on this re-issue.

  1. Same transfer with the corrected song line in the Jiminy Cricket

    A few lost extras

    The new Oswald extra

    New Digital Copy

    Is the audio commentary is intact — they don;t usually drop those ?   I know it was part of the CIne-Explore extra before, but I thought it

    was actually an audio track as well.

  2. As per Matt's review, it appears to be the same transfer as the previous release.

    This 1.33:1 1080p (AVC codec) transfer seems to be the same one utilized in the 2009 Blu-ray issue of the film. DNR has scrubbed away any trace of grain and left in a place or two evidence of a little busyness where things were digitally tempered. On the plus side, there isn’t a sign of age here with mind-numbing colors of vast richness and purity (reds may be a trifle hot) and not an artifact in sight: no dirt, no banding, no scratches.

  3. Is the audio commentary with Maltin, etc intact — they don;t usually drop those ?   I know it was part of the CIne-Explore extra before, but I thought it

    was actually an audio track as well.

    The audio commentary was taken from the Cine-Explore audio track, and both are missing from this release.

  4. The audio commentary was taken from the Cine-Explore audio track, and both are missing from this release. I guess they assume that nearly one hour long documentary is all that is needed.

    Thanks and too bad — I couldn't remember if it was a separate track or if the audio only and PIP version were linked.   I doubt I would have sold my Platinum Edition anyway, but  losing that audio commentary certainly seals it.  Now the question is the Digital Copy and couple new extras worth another dip in the pool.

    Actually not much of a decision since I think I have every Pinocchio back to the big Deluxe LD box,  what's one more time.   Probably either get it through DMC or maybe the BBY exclusive and use the new DMR $5 MQ.

    I'll also take it that the rumored semi announced Women in Animation didn't make the cut

  5. This film is regarded as the most technically advanced and greatest animated feature of all time. It is a shame they have scrubbed all the grain away. It does look beautiful, but we fear the colors have been modernized and not the original palette.

  6. Tell me that it finally has natural grain content and I will buy.

    The first laserdisc CAV release is absolutely untouched and original. It has the Technicolor adjustment over the scenes in Gepetto's cottage at the beginning too.

  7. Is this title on sale yet?  I can't find it on Amazon.

    On preorder  everywhere but Amazon as they apparently are in yet another 'negotiation' with a Media Company.   Hopefully Disney holds their own and refuses whatever demands that Bezos is shoveling this time

  8. The first laserdisc CAV release is absolutely untouched and original. It has the Technicolor adjustment over the scenes in Gepetto's cottage at the beginning too.

    I still own a laser player, but playing anything (even CAV) back on a 55" plasma is, for me, nearly unwatchable. Too bad, but I'm glad to hear it was correctly released at least once.

  9. This film is regarded as the most technically advanced and greatest animated feature of all time.  It is a shame they have scrubbed all the grain away.  It does look beautiful, but we fear the colors have been modernized and not the original palette.

    The thing I cannot understand is this:

    This film is being released over and over with extras and many unwanted stuff.

    Can't they for once include as an extra an untouched version of the original scan for heaven's sake?

    I think that would be more interesting than – i don't know – a rap version of Pinocchio!

    Anyway, for what is worth here's some comparisons of the bluray to a 35mm print:

    http://screenshotcomparison.com/comparison.php?id=153637

    http://screenshotcomparison.com/comparison.php?id=153657

    http://screenshotcomparison.com/comparison/149358/picture:0 (3 in this link)

    Watching the print of the film, is a marvellous experience, with the animation coming alive with the grain, something that the flat looking bluray can't offer.

    I'm sorry to say this, (and no offence to anyone) but I think that professional reviewers and film specialists have a part in the responsibility in this continuing thing, since they don't publically condemn such restoration tactics.

    if this was a live-action film, such "restoration" would be unacceptable.

    Why it should be any different in animation films?

    Because the cells didn't have grain?

    But the cells became a film when printed on film, along with other effects!

    Anyway, we've talked about this over and over and nothing good turns of it.

    Just so as there no misunderstaning I repeat:

    They could add the untouched version, so everyone could be happy.

    (I assume there is a perfect 4k untouched scan WITH grain, isn't there?)

  10. On preorder  everywhere but Amazon as they apparently are in yet another 'negotiation' with a Media Company.   Hopefully Disney holds their own and refuses whatever demands that Bezos is shoveling this time

    Yeah, there's a page for it but you can't do anything other than sign up to be "notified when it becomes available":

    https://www.amazon.com/Pinocchio-Blu-ray-Walter-Catlett/dp/B01M105H8W/ref=sr_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1485182331&sr=1-1&keywords=pinocchio+signature+collection+blu+ray

    Noticed that when I went to post a link to "Light Between the Oceans", another property under the Disney umbrella.  Lame!

  11. Yeah, there's a page for it but you can't do anything other than sign up to be "notified when it becomes available":

    https://www.amazon.com/Pinocchio-Blu-ray-Walter-Catlett/dp/B01M105H8W/ref=sr_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1485182331&sr=1-1&keywords=pinocchio+signature+collection+blu+ray

    Noticed that when I went to post a link to "Light Between the Oceans", another property under the Disney umbrella.  Lame!

    You'll see it with Queen of Katwe, too.

  12. On preorder  everywhere but Amazon as they apparently are in yet another 'negotiation' with a Media Company.   Hopefully Disney holds their own and refuses whatever demands that Bezos is shoveling this time

    Thanks.

  13. If you order now on Disneymovieclub they will send you a free lithograph that is really cool.  I just got mine.  It's small but very nice.  I mainly ordered this just to get the digital copy for my iPhone because I love this film.  The artwork is the greatest ever produced and will never be topped.

  14. The thing I cannot understand is this:

    This film is being released over and over with extras and many unwanted stuff.

    Can't they for once include as an extra an untouched version of the original scan for heaven's sake?

    I think that would be more interesting than – i don't know – a rap version of Pinocchio!

    Anyway, for what is worth here's some comparisons of the bluray to a 35mm print:

    http://screenshotcomparison.com/comparison.php?id=153637

    http://screenshotcomparison.com/comparison.php?id=153657

    http://screenshotcomparison.com/comparison/149358/picture:0 (3 in this link)

    (i love the luminous fairy and the light reflected in the room and Pinocchio in the print, an effect that is lost in the Bluray)

    Watching the transfer of a print of the film, is a marvellous experience, with the animation coming alive with the grain, something that the flat looking bluray can't offer.

    I'm sorry to say this, (and no offence to anyone) but I think that professional reviewers and film specialists have a part in the responsibility in this continuing thing, since they don't publically condemn such restoration tactics.

    if this was a live-action film, such "restoration" would be unacceptable.

    Why it should be any different in animation films?

    Because the cells didn't have grain?

    But the cells became a film when printed on film, along with other effects!

    Anyway, we've talked about this over and over and nothing good turns of it.

    Just so there's no misunderstanding I repeat:

    They could add the untouched version, so everyone could be happy.

    (I assume there is a perfect 4k untouched scan WITH grain, isn't there?)

    I myself have been tracking down grainy untouched versions of these scrubbed films either on DVD or HD quality on TV, so I much prefer watching them, even if they have less detail or aren't pristine!

    And i'll dare say I prefer the grainy versions of even caps films.

    The HD grainy versions of Hunchback of Notre Dame or Mulan are a revelation, offering a filmic quality to the animation and a near-theatrical experience of viewing the films.

    I must agree with your consensus. I used to own a 35 mm IB Tech print of the film and the colors, in some instances on the Blu ray are way off. For one thing, on the Blu ray Jiminy Cricket keeps changing color from the rather neutral flesh-like tone to various shades of green. If this is the so-called corrected print then why is the line where Jiminy says to Pinocchio "Buck up son, Be cheerful, like me," at which point the cricket makes a sad face, is missing. This occurs shortly after Jiminy fails to free Pinocchio from the birdcage. By the way, the shot can be seen in the bonus material on the making of the film. Other things messed up in this version, the subtle flicker of the footlights during I got no strings can no longer be seen and Stromboli's shirt is way too garish. Why didn't they just get hold of an old IB Technicolor print and use that as a reference? A shame. I fear we'll never get to see a proper transfer of this masterpiece of cinema. Bill O.

  15. Oh no!  They've screwed up Jiminy audio again in this new release? 

    In the first Blu release they left out a couple of spoken Jiminy lines during Give a Little Whistle.

    From a 2010 post of mine in another thread:

    The missing lines of dialogue are contained within the song Give a Little Whistle.

    As Jiminy is counseling Pinocchio to "let his conscience be his guide" and "give a little whistle"…the two characters do a bit of a call-and-answer section:

    Jiminy: And when your whistle's weak…..YELL!

    Pinocchio: Jiminy Cricket!

    Jiminy: Right!

    Well, the response "Right!" by Jiminy is missing–both from the new mix for the Blu-ray release and from the original mono mix also included on the disc.

    There is another piece of Jiminy's dialogue missing from the end of the same song. When Jiminy has always said "Look out Pinoke!", as Pinocchio falls over, there is…nothing.

  16. Oh no!  They've screwed up Jiminy audio again in this new release?

    In the first Blu release they left out a couple of spoken Jiminy lines during Give a Little Whistle.

    From a 2010 post of mine in another thread:

    I don't think so.   Every thing I;ve read in the reviews say it the same as on the corrected disc from the Platinum release

  17. I did go back and check the Platinum and Signature DVD and BD;s.   Unless I'm misunderstanding the above post the "Buck up" line is intact for  all the copies I checked.    The "Give a Little Whistle" lines were missing from the Platinum original BD and DVD, but were corrected for the Signature BD and DVD.    I never sent in for the corrected copy of my Platinum BD and I don't thing there was ever an exchange for the Platinum DVD.

  18. I never sent in for the corrected copy of my Platinum BD

    Guilty as charged…and I did a lot of the legwork/kvetching which led to Disney offering that fixed copy.

    Almost justifies me buying this new edition…  :laugh:

  19. I don't think so.   Every thing I;ve read in the reviews say it the same as on the corrected disc from the Platinum release

    Wait, maybe I;m looking in the wrong place.  Let me go back again

    The Give a Little Whistle lines are definitely corrected.

    Double checked

    The "Buck Up.  Be cheerful like me!"  line is certainly there

    David, Thank you for checking the "Buck up" line. I rechecked the DVD on another player and the line is indeed intact. Sorry for the false alarm. Bill O.

  20. Odd that a different player made a difference, but as long as it's there.

    Now back to the argument that has no winner — should it look like the cels, should it only look like the film after the photographing the actual cels,  should it look more like Print 10001 or 101A, or should it look like a specific print projected by a specific color bulb from only a Disney certified projector onto a specific color screen with an exact amount of ambient light.

    Who is going to decide exactly which combination of factors need to be included to answer what it was supposed to look like.   Is a photo in a 50yo book any sort of correct approximation or what in looked like in the ground zero room in 1939 and 1940.

  21. I think RAH has made a pretty good assessment of these Disney releases.  To paraphrase his previous comments on Disney Blu-rays in general, the original film elements have been carefully preserved, so the original look could be reproduced if that was ever desired.  However, Disney has made a decision to try to present these films with a look and feel closer to modern sensibilities, so these discs should be considered new versions and not representations of the original releases.

    I have no idea if Walt and the multitude of talented artists who worked on this films would prefer them to presented with the limitations of film technology from the times they were made, or if they would enjoy seeing them as drawings come to life minus the characteristic "look" of film.  I know that I've been generally satisfied by what they've put out.  I would be extremely concerned if they were destroying the original versions for all time, but that's not what's happening here.  The original elements are being carefully preserved in their vaults, and they have copious notes and archival files to confirm what the films originally looked like.  As long as the original versions aren't lost, I don't know if it's as important to me personally to own them looking that way.  That being said, if Disney released side-by-side versions and you had the choice of buying a version made to look like the original release or a more modernized version like they currently put out, I'd pick the original look.  But I'm not sure I'm losing any sleep over it.

  22. I have read all that and for the most part agree with you.   If they release a variation that may what it could/should/may have looked like in 1940 is a perfect Silver Screen with a perfect bulb   I'd buy that and put it next to my LD/DVD/2 Blurays.   These are gorgeous presented as is and I enjoy the Blurays far more than my LD.   Not arguing whether this is what it should be, but I can more than live joyously with what it is.

     I just tired of the same 20 posts and variations on continuous repeat long ago

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