Pinocchio’s message grows just as much as his nose does
A Chris Pozzi Critique
There are a few separate movies that people will first think of when you suggest early, famous Disney movies. One of these movies is the beloved Pinocchio. This is one of Disney’s most timeless hits that will never grow old. It is a constant source of entertainment for children and adults alike. However, it is most definitely geared more towards children. It is in the Children’s Movies genre, of course. A big debate that has gone on in the world of Walt Disney and his company is the message that comes across in these movies. Some seem very lighthearted and fun at first, but as you dive into the movie deeper, you come to realize that there could be a ton of extra meaning to each movie that is not necessarily meant for children. While Pinocchio has both positive and negative messages, the movie has a stronger influence of negativity that outweighs the positive messages shown in the film.
It is argued that these movies have many types of messages that can be seen as positive but also negative. These types of messages are what determine what the movie is trying to show and imply. In addition, there are different ways to show these messages: whether they are overt or implied. From our power-point presentation in class, overt messages are defined as messages that are “specifically stated by a main character or supporting character at some point in the film”. In addition, implied messages are those that are “never really stated but present whether by examining actions, reading facial expressions, or by focusing on what the characters are NOT saying”. Both of those are present in many movies, and especially in these movies that are geared towards kids. Whether or not they are seen as positive or negative messages depends on the movie and how it is analyzed.
The positive message that is shown in Pinocchio is shown throughout the movie. First, he is constantly told that he should not lie. The message that is being brought across is very overt coming from his father as well as Jiminy Cricket. This is where the aspect of his nose comes into play. Whenever he lies, his nose grows. This tells kids that lying is not okay and almost shows that there will be a consequence of some kind if they lie. Lying will obviously never actually make your nose grow, but to a little kid it is very real that their nose may grow if they lie, so they have a reason not to. While this message is brought out and is most definitely a positive aspect of the film, there are more negative messages in this message that tip the overall feeling of the movie. Specifically, this message is interesting because there is a character named Honest John, who is most definitely one of the biggest liars out there. This contradiction could be confusing to kids, but the name having honesty in it shows the emphasis on the concept of lying.
The first negative message brought out in this movie is pretty implied. It is the fact that a bunch of young boys are stolen and turned into donkeys, and the only reason that Pinocchio escapes is because he wishes upon a star to become a real boy. This implies that only the lucky will get chosen to escape. Cody Hoskins expresses this aspect really well on the website MUBI when he says that Pinocchio is the only boy that “…has won all his happiness while many more are not so lucky and will never be seen or heard from again”. This kind of kidnapping is a real world issue and is implied when all of the boys are captured in this movie. In addition, another negative message in this movie is something that Cody Hoskins expresses on MUBI: “[Pinocchio] shows the dangerous underlying evils of society, personified by Honest John, Stromboli, and the Coachman, and how those evil forces get away with their crimes unpunished”. All of these forces are not messed with whatsoever, and is imprinted into a child’s mind. They are shown that what these forces do can occur and not be punished. An example of this is, like I said above, when the evil Stromboli is able to take all of these boys and not get in trouble for this issue. A child sees this and thinks that this is a normal act to have happen in the world, which they should not be thinking.
While Pinocchio has many different aspects that can bring a child joy, whether it be coming from the fun characters or the nice music, the overall message is way too negative for this age group to be immerged in. I would rate this movie a 3, just because it is most definitely an entertaining movie for children, but has many areas that could be fixed to not have the flaws that it does that could frighten or be impressionable on children in any way.