a real boy, adaptation, Blue Fairy, boy, carl reiner, Carlo Collodi, Disney, donkey, donkey scene, donkey transformation, donkeys, Faerie Tale Theatre, faerie tale theatre reviews, fairy, fairy tale, fairy tale adaptation, fairy tale history, fairy tales, fairytale, Gepetto, giant whale, italian fairytale, italian village, italy, james coburn, jim belushi, lainie kazan, marionette, michael richards, origin story, paul reubens, Pinocchio, priest, puppet, puppets, real boy, review, review series, screen adaptation, series review, sofia, swallowed by a whale, television review, tv review, whale, woodcarver
“Gepetto has wished for a brand new boy,
so you have been chosen to bring him joy…I hope.”
– The spell bringing Pinocchio to life, albeit with some shaky confidence
Hi boys and girls and everyone else! Today’s secret word is strings! So anytime someone says that word, scream real loud!
To say Pinocchio is just another fairytale character would be a gross understatement. Whether you’re familiar with the mischievous marionette through Disney’s animated movie, his appearances in the Shrek films, or some other third thing, everyone knows the living lie-detector puppet who wants to be a real boy. So where did he come from? Gepetto may be Pinocchio’s father in-story, but it was Italian author Carlo Collodi who gave him life on the page in 1881. Collodi wasn’t a stranger to fairy tales, having previously translated several French ones to his native tongue. When he was invited to try writing his own stories, he wound up making history.
Released in a serial format in one of the earliest known children’s magazines, Le avventure di Pinocchio highlighted the titular puppet’s trials and tribulations as he navigated the world around him. Pinocchio was meant to serve as an example of behavior for kids, and was punished or rewarded for his actions accordingly – but mostly punished. Those of you who’ve grown up knowing only Disney’s version might be surprised at how much the film deviates from Collodi’s writings, and the numerous bleak tangents that were omitted (though considering the frightening scenes that remain, I wouldn’t say the feature we got was all that saccharine). The original story ended on a rather grim note with Pinocchio left hanging from a noose after the Fox and Cat swindle him out of his money (I should mention at this point that Collodi was somewhat inspired by The Brothers Grimm, which certainly accounts for some of the darker elements). Popular demand rescued Pinocchio from his cruel fate, however, and his story continued for many months afterward. His complete adventures were compiled into a single book in 1883, and the puppet’s popularity hasn’t waned since. He’s a cultural icon in Italy, nearly at the same level that Mickey Mouse is in America. Some analyses even place him on the same epic heroes pedestal as Odysseus, Dante, and Gilgamesh, claiming his journey is just as rich an exploration of the human condition as their ancient myths.
As for me personally, I’ve made my adoration for the Disney film clear in the past (or rather the original, seeing as we’re getting a live-action remake of it next month). Walt and his team knew how to weave the separate tales into one cohesive narrative and made our hero a much more likable but still flawed and interesting character. That, combined with music and iconography that is rarely matched these days, cements it as one of the best animated features in the history of the medium – and nearly every version of Pinocchio that came after has tried and failed to be just like it. That’s not my love for Disney talking either. Most every iteration I’ve seen borrows or outright steals the same exact characters, designs and beats (in the same order) as the Disney one when not awkwardly incorporating details from the Collodi stories. So how does Faerie Tale Theatre’s take on the puppet’s odyssey fare?Continue reading