On today’s date, back in 1940, Disney’s animated feature film, Pinocchio (based on the 19th century book by Carlo Collodi) premiered at the Central Theatre in New York City. A living puppet (voiced by Dickie Jones), with the help of a cricket named Jiminy (Cliff Edwards) as his conscience, must prove himself worthy to become a real boy. Pinocchio was the second full animated film from Walt Disney, the first was Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Walt’s drive and ambition to create this film was based on the overwhelming success that Snow White received.
Walt Disney originally planned the release of the film “Bambi” first, because he felt the characters were easier for the animators to create. However, Pinocchio was released first, and received critical acclaim. People felt that Walt showed less enthusiasm for Pinocchio then he previously did for Snow White. This is mainly because of the idea he had to release feature films at a much quicker rate, and the project was taking a bit longer then he anticipated. Animators were creating both Bambi and Pinocchio roughly at the same time. Walt stopped production of Pinocchio mid-way because he didn’t like how seemingly dark the story was appearing. This is the point in time where Jiminy Cricket was added to the storyline. Walt felt the addition would lighten things up a bit for young viewers. He was right.
The song “When you Wish Upon a Star” (sung my Jiminy) has become so well known, and is used so often by Disney to this day. If Walt wouldn’t have added Jiminy Cricket, we may never have had this sort of connection that we all do. Jiminy Cricket is also known for telling Pinocchio to “always let your conscience be your guide.” This quote is also one of the most famous to come from a Disney film.
Pinocchio is such a classic film. It’s funny though, that today, the quotes and music from the film, seem to be more well known than the actual story line. In my own household, my children know the songs, they know Pinocchio’s nose grew when he lied, but that’s about the extent of it. They associate When You Wish Upon a Star with being at Disney World, and watching Wishes, more so than the actual movie it came from. I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. All of what Walt Disney created was magical, and stands the test of time. No matter what context it’s in, as long as the “story” is repeated, or even parts of it, it still eludes the magic that Walt provided. So Happy Anniversary/Birthday Pinocchio, and Jiminy Cricket too!