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“When You Wish Upon A Star
Makes No Difference Who You Are
Anything Your Heart Desires
Will Come To You…”
In my last review, I compared Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to Star Wars; a blockbuster that captivated audiences, revolutionized filmmaking, and was an all-around fun adventure with a likable cast. Well if Snow White is Disney’s Star Wars – before Disney owned Lucasfilm, I mean – then Pinocchio is undoubtedly Disney’s Empire Strikes Back: refined visuals, more complex storytelling and characters, and much, MUCH darker.
The success of Snow White marked the beginning of big things for Disney animation. The sizable influx of cash meant Walt could build a bigger studio, hire more staff, and give his projects a noticeably larger budget. The question is, where to go from here? What movie could possibly follow the fairest one of all? Investors were clamoring for a sequel and the idea was toyed with for a time, but Walt was not a one-trick pony. Then animator Norm Ferguson brought a copy of Carlo Collodi’s Le avventuri di Pinocchio to Walt’s attention. Walt and a few of his key guys had attended a performance of Yasha Frank’s successful staging of Pinocchio prior to Snow White’s release and noted the story had possibilities for adaptation – plenty of spectacle, cute comic relief critters, etc. Seeing that book sparked Walt’s memory; after reading it, he intended to make Pinocchio his third animated venture behind the upcoming Bambi. But when that movie ran into production troubles, Pinocchio was bumped up to its place. Does it measure up to Snow White, though? Let’s find out.