Monday, January 14, 2013

Pinocchio, The Tale of a Puppet by Carlo Collodi

Why did I read it? Stuck on reading the books that inspired the early Disney movies.

Summary: A wooden puppet strives to become a real boy, but has to learn some lessons along the

My Thoughts: Well, it had to come from somewhere, the movie, that is. And there's a lot of the original story that made it into the Disney film.

And it's understandable why Disney changed the character of the protagonist as he did. Pinocchio as written by Collodi in the earliest chapters was a brat, a petulant and self-absorbed youngster who did anything get out of school, work or responsibility in any form. Disney - and this was a Walt Disney production in its truest sense - made him more gullible, hapless, easily-swayed by the people and talking animals that came into his life. And there were a lot of talking animals.

Consider this one little change: Pinocchio meets Talking Cricket early in the book, and flings a hammer handle at him and kills him; Disney turns that cricket into Jiminy Cricket, and makes him the conscience of the puppet. Jiminy becomes one of the earliest and best-loved animated characters of all time.

As for the book itself, if you read it back-to-back with Voltaire's Candide, you would swear they were written by the same author. Action comes fast, and it's always overly dramatic. Every few pages, Pinocchio - being very Italian (as one, I feel confident saying it) - is on his knees weeping and begging for somebody to spare him his life if only so he can see his papa again. Characters weave in and out of the story, returning and disappearing, as Pinnochio moves from one venue to another over a wide expanse of time. He gains and loses small fortunes. It's as bizarre a fantasy world as any other.

The moral? Be a good boy and good things happen to you, just like my mama always said. He gets there in the end, but, wow, what a rough road!

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