No less than three of this year’s Oscar- and Annie-nominated animated features boast spectacular action sequences set upon roaring oceans: Moana, The Red Turtle and Kubo and the Two Strings. Astonishing as those sequences are, a look at the Monstro sequence on the new “Signature Collection” Blu-ray still takes one’s breath away over 75 years after it was created by a (forgive the pun) “perfect storm” of pioneering artists and circumstances.
The new Pinocchio Blu-ray package contains nearly all of the bonus features included in the previous Blu-ray, plus a greater number of new items than most Disney Blu-ray reissues have included lately.
The most historically significant extra is 1927’s Poor Papa, starting Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, restored with a new musical score by Mark Watters. Animated by Ub Iwerks, this was the first Oswald cartoon produced, but was held back by distributor Charles Mintz until Trolley Troubles convinced him Oswald was a popular success.
Other new extras on the Pinocchio Blu-ray include: The Pinocchio Project: When You Wish Upon a Star; Walt’s Story Meetings: Pleasure Island; and In Walt’s Words: Pinocchio. Returning extras include No Strings Attached: The Making of Pinocchio; The Sweatbox; Geppettos Then and Now; Deleted Scenes; Live-Action Reference Footage; Trailers (1940, 1984, 1992); a Meaghan Jette Music Video; Storyboard-to-Film comparisons; and A Wish Come True: The Making of Pinocchio. (Missing is the “Cine-Explore” feature that offered commentary and visuals during the film, perhaps because numerous Blu-ray players no longer accommodate it.)
Pinocchio represents Walt Disney and his artists at its zenith. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was the biggest box office hit in history. Animation was being taken seriously as a film medium rather than as filler for a theater program. The sky seemed the limit for new ideas and techniques. Financially, it was not to be. For a number of reasons—budgets, delays, the coming war—Pinocchio’s monetary success would have to wait for subsequent reissues. Nonetheless, few if any animated features have reached such dizzying levels of detail in character animation, layout and art direction as Pinocchio.
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