In Too Deep Into Disney #2: Pinocchio Goes To Hell
Hello and welcome to In Too Deep Into Disney, where I over-analyse all the animated Disney films.
Well another week of working away in a fabulous castle has passed, but enough about how awesome working for Disney is. Lets talk about good old Pinocchio instead or, as I prefer to call him: Wooden Jesus.
â€œWooden Jesus?â€ I hear you ask. â€œWhat in the name of The Fairy With Turquoise Hair can you mean by that?â€ Well lets start right back at the start of the movie. You have Joseph I mean Gepetto wishing on a star that he could have a child without going through all that tiresome business of finding a wife and making sweet, sweet wood-carver love to her. And then you have Mary I mean the Blue Fairy that gave life to it. Okay in this case the Blue Fairy is a mixture of the angel that made Mary pregnant and Mary herself in some sense. Nevertheless the parallels are pretty clear. Pinocchio is born via immaculate conception, ergo he is Jesus. It couldn’t be plainer then the nose on my face (but more on that in a moment).
Whilst we’re talking about Pinocchio’s birth, lets not forget to mention good old Talking Cricket who dies within his first encounter. Err I mean Jimminy Cricket. Yeah in the book the cricket is killed pretty quickly and comes back as a ghost. Anyway back to Jimminy Cricket being Pinocchio’s conscience. That little voice that only you hear that helps you differentiate between right and wrong. Well people more religious than me might be tempted to say that that little voice could be synonymous with God. And by all rights it’s not like it can be proven wrong. Listen to God and he’ll show you the right way and all that. Well, how is old Jimminy Cricket any different (well, besides being the aforementioned cricket). So Jesus talks to God, Pinocchio talks to Jimminy. Betcha you never thought of that parallel before.
Anyway our little Pinocchio plans to go off to school but is instead tricked by conmen and kidnapped by an evil Jew. Seriously people bitch about how the crows from Dumbo or the story of Song of the South is racist… but apparently completely forget about Stromboli being the stereotypical Greedy Jew stereotype. And the film was made in 1940, where… ‘other unfortunate things’ were happening at the same time. If there was ever a case to be made for Walt Disney being anti-Semitic, it could be used here. Anyway Stromboli represents the allure of fame that Jesus must have faced when he realized he could use his powers as magic tricks. I mean when you can turn water into wine, you can make a killing at Las Vegas. As such, same temptation as Jesus faced. Of course Pinocchio manages to get out of his predicament, so that’s all well and good. You think the little git would learn after that.
Also the whole ‘if you lie your nose will grow long’ idea? It only ever appears once in the entire movie. Funny how that’s had such a big impact.
Anyway Pinocchio gets led astray let again by Honest John and Gideon (Gideon being voiced by none other than Mel Blanc, though only a hiccup survives of the recording), he goes to meet the Coachman. But taking it back to these two characters as well as Stromboli: Once again it’s the idea of giving into temptation presented to you by other people. Isn’t that one of the main doctrines of Christianity, not giving into temptation? Well up to now it’s been very subtle, but when Satan makes an appearance you know it all goes to Hell in a donkey-drawn carriage.
But as scary as @#$^ the scene is, I do think we are looking at it the wrong way. One of the purpose of art critique is admiring its cultural context. The book was written in the 1880s (and is old as New Zealand, how mind-blowing is that) and the film in 1940. In the 1800s school wasn’t compulsory (or at least I don’t think it was) and thus a lot of boys didn’t go. And we all know what we get told by our parents: If you don’t study hard you’ll end up flipping burgers. Well here’s the thing: Because the boys don’t get educated, they end up having to do manual labour. It’s just a bit more symbolic by making them donkeys. But the message has lost its impact nowadays because school is so much more initialized and the idea of having to ‘work hard’ is foreign to my generation. So the Aesop has almost been lost to time due to changing attitudes.
But anyway, in short: The Coachman is Satan and thus the scariest creature ever created by Disney. Yes, even scarier than Chernaborg, who is actually the devil. How is that even possible? Well there are several factors. First off he is pretty much the anti Blue Fairy, instead being the Red Coachman. She’s angelic, he’s devilish. Nothing more to really elaborate on. Secondly he closes the gates to a place that seems like it’s full of temptation, but is instead a disguise to make on suffer. So in a sense it’s exactly what Hell would be like. But the reason why he’s the scariest: He doesn’t lose. The story ends with Gepetto and Pinocchio happy… but the Coachman is still turning boys into donkeys. They are totally forgotten about. They’re still suffering in the salt mines and circuses. And those are the lucky ones. Do you know how much donkey skin is worth, and how comparatively little a talking donkey is? Brr. But there was a deleted scene where Honest John and Gideon get arrested, leading to the Coachman’s discovery. So if we take that as true, then we can say that Pinocchio went to Hell and rescued all the trapped souls inside of it that wanted to repent. So in other words, he once again was Jesus.
What strikes me odd about Pinocchio as a movie is how serialized it is. Okay no surprise there, it was a serialized in a magazine, but it’s here we have a third plot start. Once involving a man being swallowed by a whale. Now what does that remind me of cough Jonah unconvincing cough. Then again it could just be a coincidence that the author chose to come up with a whale after he wasn’t allowed to let Pinocchio die (though he did have the puppet hanged, so there’s that). Anyway they go into the Belly of the Beast and save Gepetto before getting out. A fairly standard scene involving a whale that isn’t really a whale trying to kill them before poor old Pinocchio dies.
And then comes back to life as a real boy. Again, it’s not hard to think of him as Jesus.
So there you have it. A very quick and shallow look at Pinocchio. If you disagree with anything, or have anything to add, feel free to leave a comment. Next time: What on earth was Fantasia actually about?