Many consider Walt Disney’s 1940 animated classic, PINOCCHIO, the best animated movie ever made, if not one of the best movies ever made, period. Acclaimed Italian comic actor Roberto Benigni tries to re-capture that magic by going back to the original source material, in a live-action version. Miramax Films has released a dubbed version of Benigni’s effort, with American actors and a couple British ones lending their voices.
PINOCCHIO stars Benigni as the mischievous, inquisitive wooden puppet, who wants, more than anything, to be a real boy. Pinocchio comes into the world as a rambunctious piece of pinewood that almost seems possessed. The wood lands on the door of poor wood-carver Geppetto, who carves the wood into a puppet. Geppetto names the puppet Pinocchio.
Immediately, Pinocchio refuses to mind Geppetto and goes out into the streets, causing plenty of mischief as he goes. The police arrest Geppetto to make him pay for the damages Pinocchio has caused. Pinocchio finally returns to an empty house, where he encounters a nagging cricket who tries to get Pinocchio to behave. Pinocchio won’t listen, however, and tries to squash the annoying bug.
The Blue Fairy decides to take matters into her own hands. After a cat and a fox take advantage of Pinocchio, she tries to teach him to follow the narrow path of righteousness and common sense. Eventually, her efforts are rewarded, but not before Pinocchio gets into a whole lot more trouble, including going to jail, being turned into a donkey and getting swallowed by a whale.
PINOCCHIO is photographed wonderfully by Benigni and Dante Spinotti, the director of photography. The movie astounds the eye with its vibrant colors and beautiful costumes, sets and scenery. The story, however, fails to create much sympathy for the bereaved Geppetto, the patient and forgiving Blue Fairy or the rambunctious Pinocchio. Pinocchio thinks the cricket is annoying, but Pinocchio is the one who may annoy viewers the most. The dubbing into English does not help. Benigni portrays Pinocchio as a petulant child who hurts the people who love him from the very beginning. Only later, when the police accuse Pinocchio for a crime he didn’t commit, does the movie manage to create sympathy for the injustices afflicting him.
PINOCCHIO reflects the moral qualities that have made this story one of the most beloved of all fairy tales. It rebukes lying, laziness and rebellion and extols hard work and obeying one’s parental figures. The movie could have strengthened the redemptive, Christian aspects to the story, however. Also, the movie’s worldview is slightly nominalistic, suggesting that lesser supernatural beings, people and magical puppets can manipulate reality.
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SUMMARY: PINOCCHIO stars Italian comic actor Roberto Benigni as the mischievous, inquisitive wooden puppet, who wants, more than anything, to be a real boy. Though beautifully photographed, with plenty of moral lessons taught, this version of the beloved fairy tale lacks cohesion, is annoying at times and includes a nominalistic worldview which suggests that lesser supernatural beings and people can manipulate reality.
(Pa, B, C, V, M) Pagan, nominalistic worldview where beings can manipulate reality and positive moral elements about training rebellious children; a couple brief Christian references, including a blessing and an angel forms a rough cross on a tombstone; slapstick violence such as runaway log hits people, policemen accidentally pelted with fruit, schoolboys fight, one schoolboy throws a book and hits another boy on the head, people fall into ocean, and protagonist catches foot in bear trap; no sex or nudity; no alcohol, smoking or drugs; and, child is lazy, lies and rebels but is rebuked.