Walt Disney's "Pinocchio," largely thought of as one of the studio's very best animated features, is about to get the deluxe home video treatment, first on digital HD and Disney Movies Anywhere (out tomorrow) and then later this month on Blu-ray -- and we've got an exclusive look at one of the insanely cool special features.
In this fascinating feature, culled from story meetings between February 1938 and July 1939 (the film would eventually be released in February of 1940), Walt's original notes are recreated verbatim. The subject at hand is the Boobyland sequence, which would eventually become the Pleasure Island sequence. Of course, that sequence wound up being one of the most memorable parts of a movie made up exclusively of memorable parts, and would go on to help inspire Disneyland's "Pinocchio" attraction as well as the entire Pleasure Island section of Walt Disney World (now home to the Disney Springs shopping complex).
What makes this so compelling is that you can really hear Walt guiding the production. After "Pinocchio," especially during World War II, Walt would drift away from the day-to-day production challenges of each film, so to hear him, in his prime, getting down in the trenches with the creative principles. You can hear him advise on everything from the topicality of Pleasure Island to specific dialogue that characters would utter onscreen. You also get some lovely context from animation historian J.B. Kaufman and "Inside Out" director Pete Docter.
The biggest takeaway from the clip, though, is that Pleasure Island was, initially at least, a much cuddlier place. It was Walt who pushed the artists and story men (and, yes, they were men back then) to go darker and stranger. And you know what? He was right. Part of what makes the final sequence so unforgettable, besides its peerless animation, is that it doesn't back down from the truly grotesque and terrifying. This is what made Walt the genius he's recognized as today–the ability to pinpoint something that might work perfectly fine but could be really special, and have those around him rally to make it truly outstanding.
"Pinocchio" is on Digital HD and Disney Movies Anywhere tomorrow and hits Blu-ray on January 31st.