Pinocchio Loses Its Magic

Rachel Horowitz and Abhinav Boda

Pale skin and chubby cheeks flushed with pink. A yellow, pointy hat with a blue stripe and a feather. A bright blue bowtie and lederhosen. A long, wooden nose. He is Pinocchio, the iconic Disney character of our childhood. His misadventures on Pleasure Island and inside of a whale captured the hearts of an entire generation. But as they’ve done with so many stories before, Disney has decided to modernize the tale. On September 8th, they released a new, live-action version of the movie. And like so many of Disney’s other live-action remakes, while enjoyable and engaging, Pinocchio fell flat in comparison to the original remake.

The Pinocchio live-action remake loses the heart of the Pinocchio story. In their effort to ‘clean up’ the movie – which is based around Pinnochio’s harmful and destructive actions – Disney undermined the message of a story intended to convey the importance of honesty. The live-action version presents Pinocchio as an unwilling participant in the events of the story, rather than the willing, even enthusiastic, perpetrator of the original tale. The absence of the rampant lying, smoking, alcohol consumption (while drinking is shown, the drink is clarified to be root beer), and general disregard for others present in the original movie, while making Pinocchio a more likable protagonist, made the all-important conscience unnecessary. By removing most of the negative aspects of Pinocchio’s character, the movie feels more like a redundant repetition of the Blue Fairy’s initial message, rather than the epic tale of morality it sets out to be.

Simultaneously, however, the live-action remake succeeds in making the tale more relevant to the modern age. During the Pleasure Island scene, the illicit thrills of smoking and drinking are replaced by more modern issues. This includes the perils of social media and the overconsumption of sugar, two issues that have grown increasingly relevant since the original Pinocchio movie. In addition, many of the new characters presented in the remake allow for a fresh viewing experience for veteran Pinocchio lovers. These updates aid in making the remake still enjoyable and engaging, despite losing many of the moral dilemmas displayed in the original film.

One of the most remarkable changes between the two movies; the live-action version is a musical. These musical elements, while somewhat enjoyable, felt unnecessary to the plot, stalling the progression of the film rather than moving it forward. Other changes were more effective – the addition of new characters created a more dynamic and engaging experience by increasing viewing investment in the story.

Ultimately, while the addition of issues relevant to the modern age contributed to a fresh take on the age-old tale, the Pinocchio live-action remake failed to convey the importance of honesty as effectively as the original.