For it's Blu-ray release, 'Pinocchio' has been digitally cleaned up and restored, so that we should have the best looking version of the film ever produced. In the 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 transfer (correctly framed at 1.33:1), the colours are more vibrant and the images are significantly sharper than on previous releases, but I can't help feeling that some 'atmosphere' has been taken away. To explain what I mean by this, you'd probably have to look at a film print or even a previous DVD release of the movie. Compared to a 'proper' film version, the Blu-ray release looks quite clinical - as it's so clean. A lot of red has been removed, so the scenes involving wood (like the main title) don't have the warmth they once had, but they are noticeably brighter.
I thought there was something odd about the way Jiminy Cricket looked on the Blu-ray, so I compared it with a previous DVD from the 2000 UK release. In the old DVD, Jiminy had pink skin tones, so he'd been humanised. For the Blu-ray he's been returned to a light green colour, like a cricket. I can only imagine that this is how he was originally intended to look and that over the years, various people have added their interpretation to his colouring. I've added a comparative shot to the 'Images' tab of this review, so you can see what I mean.
There's no ringing to hint at oversharpening and no surface film grain. Some backgrounds have been left with a grain-like appearance, which is nice. Some texture seems to have been lost in the clean up process, so faces look flatter than before. The Disney developed multi-plane camera is used in many shots to provide a 3D effect, but not in the same way as 3D is possible in a modern digitally produced animation. What we're looking at is the effect of technology marching on with time, but it has a style all of its own. More detail is evident in the Blu-ray than ever before. This can be seen in the comparative screen shot mentioned earlier.
Overall, it's a very good transfer indeed.
The audio on 'Pinocchio' is presented in two flavours.
For the modern audience who must have it in the very latest format we have an English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 channel surround mix. I found this a bit of overkill as I could only really hear sounds from the centre, front left and front right speakers. Nothing, as far as I was aware, came from the rear effects or back effects speakers. The only time I noticed the sub-woofer kick in was during the 'Monstro the whale' sequence, but not in an earth moving way. As it is, the dialogue is very clear and locked to front centre. During musical numbers the instrumentation came from the main stereo pair, so there is some separation. Very nice, clean sound when you consider the original would have had a scratchy, mono optical soundtrack on the film itself.
There's also a restored original soundtrack in Dolby Digital Mono which would be the choice of purists as it's the closest to the way it was originally presented back in 1940. In this case, everything obviously comes from front centre, but it's well mixed with nothing drowning the dialogue.
Disney has provided enough bonus material to keep the most ardent film historian happy. It is split between Blu-ray disc 1 and 2 in HD, while there is a standard definition version of the movie and extras included on Disc 3.
This allows users with a “Profile 2.0” capable Blu-ray Player to access online content. Disney includes options such as chat, video messages and even their rewards program online through their BD-Live network. I was unable to test this functionality on my player.
- Audio Commentary
A fascination commentary track, as Leonard Maltin, Eric Goldberg and J.B. Kaufman are able to present different viewpoints and each has their own insight into the background of the movie.
This uses Bonus View (requiring a “Profile 1.1” or higher capable Bluray player) to deliver Picture-In-Picture video commentary throughout the film and even features video clips and still images on top of that. The video commentary is identical to the audio commentary above and includes the same group of people but also has interviews with former Disney animators.
- Disney View
This is a set of coloured themed sidebar pillars to cover up the vertical black bars on this (Full Screen) 1.33:1 aspect ratio presentation. Hi ho - pandering to the widescreen generation.
- Music Video (3:15 - HD)
“When You Wish Upon A Star” is performed by Meaghan Jette Martin from Disney's “Camp Rock” movie. Just to prove that the original is best.
- Disney Song Selection
The songs featured here include “When You Wish Upon A Star“, “Little Wooden Head“, “Give A Little Whistle“, “Hi-Diddle-Dee-Dee“, “I've Got No Strings“. The Karaoke style on-screen lyrics can be turned off if you'd just like to watch a specific song.
”Games & Activities”
- Pinocchio's Matter of Facts
It's a pop up trivia track that allows the user to learn facts about the film and other related subjects as you watch the film.
- Disney Smart Games: Pinocchio Knows Trivia Challenge
Similar to the feature above but it lets you put your trivia knowledge to use in a fun game.
'Games & Activities'
- Pinocchio's Puzzles
This is hosted by our pal “Jiminy Cricket” and features some wooden puzzles that you are asked to assemble.
- Pleasure Island Carnival Games
Lets you take a virtual trip to the island and rescue the kids by defeating “The Coachman” from the film in a set of traditional games one would find at a carnival. This requires you to use the buttons on your Blu-ray remote control. Best to buy a new one now.
- Featurette: “No Strings Attached: The Making of Pinocchio” (56:04 - HD)
A fairly chunky doco featuring interviews with Disney animators, historians and film critics all discussing the making of this classic 70-year-old animated film. You'll have to be quick to catch their names as it's so tightly cut together. A real treat for fans of the movie.
- Deleted Scenes (10:35 - HD)
This includes a total of 4 scenes, one of which is storyboards for an alternate ending to the film. This has an introduction which explains why these sequences (deleted scenes) are only in storyboard form and explains how Walt Disney organised his films.
- The Sweatbox (6:25 - HD)
An interesting short which sheds some light on one of Walt Disney's original forms of honing the creativity of his staff of animators in the non-air conditioned theatres on the Studio lot. Here Walt would watch the work that his animators would bring him daily and make suggestions.
- Live Action Reference Footage (9:57 - HD)
A chance to see the early use of 'rotoscoping' in animation. This included tracing over live action references for things like human movement. A narration is included since this video doesn't contain any live audio and helps to explain the process.
- Pinocchio Art Galleries
Not really for the casual viewer, this is a collection of images that range from visual development, character design, maquettes & models, backgrounds & layouts, storyboard art, production pictures and even live-action reference still photographs.
A collection of trailers for the film. The original trailer from 1940, as well as the ones from the 1984 and 1992 re-releases are included. These run roughly around 2 minutes each and are in Standard Definition video.
- Deleted Song
The song is entitled “Honest John” and consists of an audio recording with static image of the character throughout.. Lyrics to this song were by Ned Washington and music was by Leigh Harline.
- Geppettos - Then and Now (10:57 - HD)
A short that takes a real life look at the craft of making wooden toys such as puppets like “Pinocchio” all the way up to the more technological toys of today.
Disney's 'Pinocchio' has gone through a painstaking clean up process to provide us with the sharpest, clearest, most detailed version ever with a 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 transfer. Colours have been returned to the way they were originally intended to look and the film is correctly presented in the 1.33:1 ratio.
The sound has been remixed in DTS-HD MA 7.1 surround for this release, but for the purists among us, there's also a restored mono soundtrack.
The extras will fascinate film buffs for hours and the games will help provide parents of young children with some respite.
A must have for every film collector and fan of Disney animation.
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