How Walt Disney Kept Pinocchio's Story On Track

Pinocchio and Jiminy Cricket

One of Disney Animation's more famous offerings is their classic 1940 film Pinocchio, which tells the story of a living wooden puppet trying to prove himself worthy of becoming a real boy. The film is known for a combination of memorable characters and great songs, including the Oscar winning track "When You Wish Upon A Star." Though Pinocchio is now 77 years old, it continues to resonate with audiences and remains a staple of family viewing. It's so popular that Disney is releasing a new Blu-ray version of the movie this month as part of their Signature Collection.

Of course, the studio will include some new bonus material to make the disc a must-own for collectors and fans, and they've now released a short clip from one of those featurettes. It details the early days of Pinocchio's development, where Walt Disney himself had to step in to make sure the project stayed on track. You can watch it above.

In the video, Monsters, Inc. and Up director Pete Docter relays an anecdote about how there were no less than 78 artists working on the film, and they all wanted their respective pieces to become a big showcase. When Disney was ready to see how it was all coming together, it took the team two days to get through all the material, and unfortunately, the boss thought the movie was headed for disaster. He had no choice but to make some tough, but necessary, cuts in order to save the production. According to historian J.B. Kaufman, Disney's goal was to boil Pinocchio down to its "narrative essence" so it was an exercise in taut and efficient storytelling. The end result was a compromise between the extravagance of the animators and the "tightness of the story."

Pinocchio and Jiminy Cricket

It no doubt must have been hard for the group as Disney went in to make his edits and narrow the movie's scope, but this process ultimately paid off. Pinocchio is now seen as a landmark event in film animation with its blend of ambitious technical aspects and emotional resonance. Even today, nearly eight decades after its original premiere, the film still holds up due to the strength of the story. Credit has to go to Disney for recognizing how the film would appeal to audiences and pushing his team to the limit so they delivered something extraordinary. It's important to keep in mind that this was Disney's second animated feature ever, so there was a lot riding on its success.

Pinocchio is so timeless that Hollywood is unsurprisingly trying to get a live-action remake off the ground. Last year, Ron Howard signed on to helm a new take from Warner Bros., but little has been heard about that project since. Perhaps Disney should be the studio for this task, since they've had great success bringing much of their animated canon back to the big screen for the modern age - as Cinderella and The Jungle Book have proven. They were able to get it off the ground once, so maybe one day they can do it again.

Pinocchio: Signature Collection Edition will be on digital HD January 10, 2017 and Blu-ray January 31, 2017.

Source: Disney

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