DVD review: We wished upon a star, and got ‘Pinocchio’

Why are the first Disney feature-length animated films so special? In large part because of their intrinsic artistry — but also for what they signify.

With 1937’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the significance was a do-or-die gamble by Walt Disney. He’d sunk most his resources into an untried realm — a feature length “cartoon” — and Snow White was even derided by some in the industry as “Disney’s folly.” But the beautiful, good-hearted fairy tale wound up as a classic, and launched a studio then known for animated shorts into another arena which still thrives and shakes the global pop culture today.

With Disney’s next full-length animated feature, 1940s’s Pinocchio, that significance remains. Too often in entertainment, the so-called “sophomore slump” proves fatal. But Disney’s second animated feature was as good as the first — and provided a slogan for his dream factory via the Oscar winning original song When You Wish Upon a Star.

Now Pinocchio is back via a two-disc DVD and Blu-ray High Definition  debut, both brandishing superbly restored sound and picture, along with the wildly eventful story of a wooden boy who longed to be human and — magically — became so.

These aren’t just special films — they’re precious ones. In an era of fast-action CG contemporaneity in animation — a new art form which I fully embrace — let us not forget or neglect the classics which set the stage so many years ago. Thanks, Disney. We are forever indebted — and should be forever grateful.

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