L  e  n  s  V  i  e  w  s

A view on Blu-ray and DVD video by Leonard Norwitz

Pinocchio

[Blu-ray] (3-disc - Platinum Edition + Standard DVD)

    vs.

DVD (2-Disc 70th Anniversary Platinum Edition)

 

(Hamilton Luske and Ben Sharpsteen, 1940)

 

 

Review by Leonard Norwitz

 

Studio:

Theatrical: Walt Disney

DVD & Blu-ray: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

DVD stats are in light green.

 

Disc:

Region: Region 1 / Region 'A'

Runtime:  1:27:33 / 1:27:44.259

Chapters: 24

Disc Size: 7,394,555,904 bytes / 30,576,255,107 bytes

Feature Size:  5.17 Gig /  23,890,409,472 bytes

Bitrate: 8.5 Mbps / 36.31 Mbps

Case: Standard DVD Keep case inside cardboard box / thick Blu-ray case (3 tiered holder)

Release date: March 10th, 2009

 

Bitrates

SD-DVD:

 

Blu-ray

 

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.33:1

Resolution:  480P /  1080p

Blu-ray Video codec: MPEG-4

 

Audio:

DVD: Dolby Digital 5.1 (DUBs: French, Spanish 5.) and the original restored mono

Blu-ray: DTS-HD Master Audio English 3446 kbps 7.1 / 48 kHz / 3446 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

 

Subtitles:

English SDH, French Spanish and none

 

Extras:

Disc 1:

• Audio Commentary with Leonard Maltin, Eric Goldberg and J.B. Kaufman

• Disney Cine-Explore
• Disney View
• Pinnochio's Matter of Facts

• Disney Song Selection
 

Disc 2:

• No Strings Attached: The Making of Pinocchio (55:58)

• The Sweatbox (6:24)

• Live Action Reference Footage (9:58)

• Geppettos Then & Now (10:57)

• Music Video: "When You Wish Upon a Star" with Meaghan Jette Martin (3:25)

• Deleted Songs (2:35)

• Never-Before-Seen Alternate Ending Deleted Scenes & Alternate Ending (10:23)

        "The Story of the Grandfather Tree"

        "In the Belly of the Whale"

• Pinnochio Art Galleries

• Pleasure Island Carnival Games

• Pinocchio Puzzles

• Sneak Peaks for Monsters, Inc. and Bolt in HD

 

Disc 3: DVD of Pinocchio with restored image and sound

 

Extras Exclusive to Blu-ray:

• Pinocchio Knows Trivia Challenge

• BDisney-Live Network:

        Movie Chat, Movie Mall, Movie Challenge, Disney Movie Rewards Live

 

 

Beavers:
Scott Hegedus brought an important oversight to light. The truth is that I had neglected to refresh my software update. Once I did: Voila! Cine-Explore and Disney View appeared like magic.

 

 

Pinocchio ~ Comment

I think I was about 8 years old when I saw Pinocchio.  This was in the theater, long before home video, long before Disney first allowed television broadcast of his classic animated features.  And it scared the bejeezus out of me.  Even so, yet partly for that reason, I have always revered this movie as one of the best movies ever to come out of this country, regardless of genre, and one of the very best animated feature films – ever.

 

I was reassured as I reviewed the bonus features that accompany this Blu-ray set that Disney did not make such movies as Snow White or Bambi for children, but for "audiences."  It was bad enough that this movie knew about my lying (after Pinocchio I could feel my nose grow every time I was so inclined), but that I may have had secret ambitions to tear up my universe and make a mess of everything that adults hold dear, especially self-control.  When Lampwick's donkey's ears suddenly start sprouting, there may be a tendency to giggle, but not once the voice is replaced by braying, and when Lampwick begs Pinocchio for help as his hands turn into hooves and we see his fate reflected as shadows on the wall, the effect is as frightening as any horror movie.

 

Coming off the raging success of the first feature length animated movie, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, known in the industry as "Disney's Folly," Walt Disney tabled his work on Bambi for the time being and put his now burgeoning financial, artistic and technical resources behind a project that would enjoy everything he would have liked to be able to do on Snow White, but couldn't.  (We would hear that theme echoed much later by the likes of Lucas and Cameron.)  Indeed, compared to Pinocchio, Snow White, as lovely and sweet and threatening as it is, is mere child's play.  Everything from the backgrounds to the scoring, to the life inhabiting every character, to the varied episodic adventures of our hero, to the details in every toy and street scene, and in every way that music, effects, story come together – it's hard to believe that the same studio is responsible for both projects, and back-to-back at that.

 

Viewed in an historical context, coming as it did immediately after Snow White, the animation of Pinocchio is a marvel.  It remains perhaps THE touchstone for painted cell feature film animation.  The story-telling and character animation is so good that we might not even notice the one thing the animation does not address – something that would not pass muster in today's 3D animated movies.  While shadows properly indicate the light source, there is no shadowing on the characters themselves. It is as if they are bathed in a diffused light at all times, altered only by quality of the light source and in moments of high drama.  Once you notice it, it's quite odd, like the first time you realize that Pre-Renaissance painting is all flat –perspective.  Clearly the animators are concerned with rendering character and movement and hadn't the financial resources to consider shadowing of the figure in relation to the light source as well.  This is just a guess since I could not find the question addressed in the bonus features.  Interestingly, Disney's very next feature later the same year, Fantasia , does make choices about shadowing depending on the segment – The Sorcerer's Apprentice" and "The Rite of Spring" use it to great dramatic effect, but the "Pastoral Symphony" does not particularly.  Disney's next feature, Bambi, seems to avoid the matter on principle – so to some extent, the question is an artistic one.

 

A final word on voicing the characters: Our perspective on Jiminy Cricket and Cliff Edwards' singing of the song that would become emblematic of Disney – "When You Wish Upon a Star" – is so etched in our consciousness that our imagining of the movie is forever enmeshed with that voice.  Child actor Dickie Jones (whom you might remember from Destry Rides Again and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington) loses whatever ego he might have had in the title role.  Dickie is innocence personified.  Christian Rub made such a good Geppetto that he was also used as the live model inspiration for the character.  Character comedian Walter Cattlett is Honest John.  Once you see his face in the bonus feature documentary, you'll recognize him immediately from Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, Yankee Doodle Dandy and Bringing Up Baby.  A final aside is that the man who would become synonymous with cartoon voices, Mel Blanc, was signed up for his only Disney contract as the voice of Gideon, but later it was determined that the character should be mute.  If you listen closely, perhaps you can hear Mel sneezing "That's all, folks."

 

 

 

Pinocchio ~ The Score Card

 

The Movie : 10

It took some months for the Disney team to sort out how they wanted to use the character of Jiminy Cricket, but once done, Jiminy took on a number of functions: He's the glue that holds the story together.  He's narrator, sidekick, rescuer, conscience.  He even sings a little.  And, by the end of the movie, he earns an important merit badge of his own.

 

Jiminy is a hobo cricket that makes himself to temporary home in Geppetto's toyshop.  As he looks out into the evening sky Geppetto tells his ersatz child, a kitten named Figaro, how much he wishes for a real son of his own.  The wishing star turns into a fairy who grants the puppet Pinocchio a life of sorts: he can talk and walk and think, though he is still made of wood.  She appoints Jiminy to be Pinocchio's conscience and help the newbie steer his way through life's temptations – a challenge for one who's lived the sort of life that our cricket has to this point.

 

So it's off to his first day at school, and before he gets to class, naÔve, innocent Pinocchio is waylaid by that master con artist, foxy Honest John, and his excitable, if mute sidekick, Gideon, who see easy money in a sale of a walking, talking wooden boy to circus impresario Stromboli.  Jiminy arrived late for his job and so is one step behind Pinocchio.  Jiminy misinterprets his charge's fascination with what the world has to offer as no longer needing him as a friend, thus setting up his own crisis of trust and loyalty. 

 

Inevitably trying to get back on track Jiminy trails Pinocchio to the birdcage where Stromboli has him imprisoned, and later to Pleasure Island where the Coachman has promised a cartful of boys a carefree life of mischief, mayhem and ice cream.  Eventually Pinocchio and Jiminy must make their reluctant way into the belly of Monstro the Whale where Geppetto, Figaro and their goldfish Cleo have ended up while searching for the missing boy.

 

 


 

Image: 8/9   NOTE: The below captures were ripped directly from the respective disc.
The first number indicates a relative level of excellence compared to other Blu-ray video discs on a ten-point scale. The second number places this image along the full range of DVD and Blu-ray discs.

 

While not as neat as last year's restoration of Sleeping Beauty, the new restoration of Pinocchio, whether viewed on Blu-ray or DVD, is light years better than the previous DVD.  It's far less noisy (which raises my hopes for Fantasia, due out a year from now), sharper, more highly resolved and dimensional (even the new DVD is good in this respect), the colors are richer with a broader palette.  On the Blu-ray, we can see deep into the frame, with every detail and line coherent, drawing us into the drama and the marvels of the artwork.

My score of "8" therefore should be understood only in absolute terms, since there is no evidence that I can find that the transfer of the source material isn't perfect.  There is none of the edge enhancement that lurked around the edges of the Limited Edition DVD.  As already noted, no noise or any of that infectious dithering that seemed to make up a good deal of the DVD image.  The color is magnificently varied as is called for in each scene.  Blacks are deep and intense, yet there is plenty of information when the frame is bathed in light.  We can now see clearly how utterly transparent is the Wishing Star Fairy.

A comparison seems almost unnecessary as a single 'restored' DVD is included in this Blu-ray 3-disc package. Visual differences in animation are always that much more subtle to identify via screen captures but at over 4X the size (and 4x the bitrate) the richer Blu-ray color and smoother, tighter appearance will show itself more readily depending on the system and how large the image is projected. Deeper reds on the Blu-ray are rendered more orangey on the DVD - see Stromboli's cumberbun, a shade in Honest John's fur and Lampwick's hair are examples below. Contrast seems more pure in 1080 and, as an aside, there is slightly more information in the frame, on all 4 sides, on the Blu-ray edition. Detail seems less affected but the separation looking at the two formats in motion is readily apparent. The Blu-ray is far more dynamic - filling the screen with much more 'life' far exceeding the expectations of a 70-year old film to digital.

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 Original DVD TOP vs. 2-disc DVD MIDDLE vs. Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 Original DVD TOP vs. 2-disc DVD MIDDLE vs. Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

 Original DVD TOP vs. 2-disc DVD MIDDLE vs. Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

 Original DVD TOP vs. 2-disc DVD MIDDLE vs. Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

 Original DVD TOP vs. 2-disc DVD MIDDLE vs. Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

 Original DVD TOP vs. 2-disc DVD MIDDLE vs. Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

 Original DVD TOP vs. 2-disc DVD MIDDLE vs. Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

 Original DVD TOP vs. 2-disc DVD MIDDLE vs. Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

 Original DVD TOP vs. 2-disc DVD MIDDLE vs. Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Audio & Music: 7/9

When I was listening to the Blu-ray of The Pink Panther I was taken completely aback by the sound of David Niven's voice.  "What the ____ !"  The timbre and signature of one of the world's most recognizable voices was carelessly manipulated into unrecognizability!  I worried that somehow the transfer was made at the wrong speed.  But it turned out that the fault was in the new DTS HD-MA 5.1 mix.  As soon as I switched to the 2.0 track, all was well again.  I have noticed similar errors in other attempts to make a cow's ear out of a silk purse.  So I was truly amazed that this mistake is not repeated here – at least not in respect to the voices.  Switching back and forth between the new 7.1 DTS HD-MA mix and the (albeit) Restored Original Mono, there was no difference worth the name. 

 

The music and effects are another story – though I did not find them worrisome.  Both are opened up and rendered much more dynamically in the surround mix.  The vintage of the original track shows itself in a certain gnashy quality that Disney takes few pains to mitigate, for which I was grateful.  I found the result to be surprisingly effective, considering my past experience with such endeavors (The French Connection is another that comes to mind that's better off watched in the original mono.)  We should credit the restoration of the original audio to start with, as there appears to be little "correction" – just clarifying.  Note Cliff Edwards' voice when he sings "When You Wish Upon a Star."  It's angelic enough to melt in your mouth.

The DVD 5.1 Dolby compression is slightly inferior. Significance is noted in the battle/chase with Monstro and Jiminy's opening and closing song.

 

Operations : 8

Disney calls their Smart Menu the Cine-Explore Experience.  In some ways it's an extremely elegant interface; in others it's a bit frustrating.  The former because it's so very informative about each clickable item including, in minutes and seconds, where you would be in the time line if you went to a particular scene.  The latter, because [a] the menus replace the movie when you ask for them instead of appearing at the bottom while the movie continues on its merry way (one can always pause of course) and [b] if you select a new chapter, for example, you have to then hit Continue to continue.  It's all too much.

 

The Bonus Features on either disc are easily accesses and labeled.  The games naturally take some time to load.  I liked that the Pleasure Island Carnival Games picked up where you left off when you return to them, but found it frustrating that Pinocchio's Puzzles did not, requiring you to start from the beginning – particularly annoying since it is a tiered game.  The Disney Song Selection allows you to make like karaoke with the lyrics on screen as you try to make like a cricket.


 

Extras : 10

I'd like to urge those of you that are familiar with Pinocchio to watch the making-of documentary "No Strings Attached" even before settling in to enjoy one of the great classics of animation once again. I'd also recommend saving the audio commentary for last, as it duplicates a good deal of what's in the documentary. Alternatively you might want to revisit the movie with Disney's Cine-Explore: Here, the audio commentary comes to life in one or more picture-in-picture inserts that demonstrate what the speakers are talking about. Yet another bonus on the main feature disc is Disney View, which in this case is an artful, but relatively subtle framing of the left and right black borders of your 16x9 image. At times the art work can impart a feeling of considerable depth to the viewing experience, as when morning come over the village on Pinocchio's first day of school.

The hour-long documentary "No Strings Attached" on Disc 2 is the gem in this box. In good quality HD, a number of historians who follow Disney and animation in particular, (Brian Sibley, J.B. Kaufman and Michael Barrier) comment on the history of Pinocchio in the context of Disney animation. Young and veteran animators (Frank Thomas, Andreas Deja, Ollie Johnston and Milk Kahl) together with visual development artist Mike Gabriel and the ubiquitous Leonard Maltin independently talk about the unsung heroes of this project. By the end of the segment you will know some of these names, not all of whom are credited in the movie.

Pinocchio's Matter of Facts are occasional pop-ups with about 50/50 new and duplicated factoids. The Sweatbox looks over Walt's shoulder as he critiques the story reels, rough animation and dailies of films in progress. In the Live Action Reference Footage we see to what extent the animators relied on live actors to sort out their 2-dimensional renderings. In "Geppettos Then & Now" we hear from modern toymakers and a museum curator about the art of working in wood. The Music Video for the big theme song couldn't be more modern Disney. There are two previews in HD worth noting – for Monster's, Inc. and Bolt. Finally, this 3-disc set includes a separate DVD, which is feature film disc from the new 70th Anniversary Platinum DVD – just in case you need to watch the movie on a DVD player.

 

Supplements on the 2-disc DVD are mostly duplicated with nothing (like the Making of...), obviously, in HD and as we stated the Blu-ray contains the first DVD anyway. The same games and activities, plus Backstage Disney are available on the second SD disc. You lose the Disney LivePinocchio Knows Trivia Challenge, and BDisney-Live Network including Movie Chat, Movie Mall, Movie Challenge, Disney Movie Rewards Live etc. 

 

DVD Menus

 

Sample of the Blu-ray supplements

 

Recommendation: 10

Walt Disney is readily acknowledged for bringing the world of animation to feature film story telling, but he is given less credit for establishing the format of the movie musical, where songs grow naturally out of characters and situations, something that waited 15 years for Oklahoma to fully see the sense of.  Pinocchio was made when Disney had as much resources as he ever would have at his disposal, and it shows in every frame.  I have always felt Pinocchio to be the best of the best.  It is daring in so many ways, and it will put you through the emotional ringer, regardless of your age.  A major release for home video.  Strongly and Warmly Recommended.

Leonard Norwitz
March 4th, 2009

 

 

 


 

 

About the Reviewer: I first noticed that some movies were actually "films" back around 1960 when I saw Seven Samurai (in the then popular truncated version), La Strada and The Third Man for the first time. American classics were a later and happy discovery.

My earliest teacher in Aesthetics was Alexander Sesonske, who encouraged the comparison of unlike objects. He opened my mind to the study of art in a broader sense, rather than of technique or the gratification of instantaneous events. My take on video, or audio for that matter – about which I feel more competent – is not particularly technical. Rather it is aesthetic, perceptual, psychological and strongly influenced by temporal considerations in much the same way as music. I hope you will find my musings entertaining and informative, fun, interactive and very much a work in progress.


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