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From strictly an artistic standpoint, Walt Disney's 1940 production of PINOCCHIO ($40) is just about the most beautiful looking animated movie of all time. Every background and every cell is lushly drawn and painted like a fine work of art. That is why I appreciate PINOCCHIO now, far more than I ever could as a child.

PINOCCHIO is based upon the classic story by Carlo Collodi, and tells the story of a kindly old woodcarver named Geppetto. Even though he lives with his cat and goldfish, Geppetto is lonely and longs for a child of his own. One evening, after finishing a marionette that he has dubbed Pinocchio, Geppetto wishes on a star that the puppet were a real boy. After Geppetto falls asleep, The Blue Fairy appears and grants the old man's wish. Well, at least partially. The Blue Fairy brings Pinocchio to life, but it is up to him to prove himself worthy of becoming a real boy by displaying the virtues of bravery, honesty and loyalty. To aid Pinocchio, The Blue Fairy assigns Jiminy Cricket the task of being Pinocchio's conscience, so that he may help the living puppet determine right from wrong.

When Geppetto awakens to find that Pinocchio has been brought to life, he acts like any dutiful father and sends his new son off to school to get an education. Of course, Pinocchio immediately falls in with the wrong individuals, which forces the puppet to learn all of life's lessons the hard way- making Jiminy Cricket's difficult job twice as hard. PINOCCHIO features the vocal talents of Don Brodie, Walter Catlett, Frankie Darro, Cliff Edwards, Dickie Jones, Charles Judels, Christian Rub and Evelyn Venable.

Walt Disney Home Video has made PINOCCHIO available on DVD in a superb looking presentation that utilizes dual layer technology to minimize MPEG-2 compression of this animated classic. For a film that is nearly sixty years old, PINOCCHIO looks absolutely stunning on DVD. The THX certified transfer presents the film in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio, and offers a virtually flawless image. While not one hundred percent perfect, the restored film elements don't display any imperfections worth complaining about. PINOCCHIO delivers a sharp and highly detailed image that grabs the viewer's eyes and doesn't let go. Colors are quite vivid and very stable, coming quite close to the intensity of an original IB Technicolor print without any distortion. As I stated above, compression artifacts have been virtually eliminated by using dual layer technology to maximize the data rate on this eighty-eight minute movie.

The Dolby Digital 4.0 channel soundtrack basically takes the original monaural sound and opens it up by spreading the musical component out into the other channels. There are limitations in the sixty-year-old recordings that are impossible to overcome, but in general, the new mix proves to be pleasant. As you might have guessed, bass reproduction and frequency response are wanting due to the age of the original recordings. A French language soundtrack has also been encoded onto the DVD, as have English subtitles.

The interactive menus are very basic, providing access to the standard scene selection and set up features. A theatrical trailer is the DVD's only supplement and is accessible through the menu system.

PINOCCHIO is a marvelous animated motion picture and a spectacular looking DVD. My only problem with this "Limited Issue" release is the $39.98 asking price for a nearly featureless DVD. This is something that almost every DVD fan is certain to find excessive.




DVD reviews are Copyright 1999 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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