Pinocchio: The Making of the Disney Epic by J.B. Kaufman
Reviewed by Mike Kenny
Considered one of the finest achievements in Disney’s revered animation history, Author J.B. Kaufman’s Pinocchio: The Making of the Disney Epic takes an extensive look into the making of this monumental effort that continues to thrive 75 years after its original release. Containing never before seen art and countless original concept sketches, Kaufman’s in-depth research and obvious passion for this Golden Age classic will educate lifelong admirers and deeply enrich future viewings of Disney’s finest animated film of all time.
Following up Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the first and deeply praised feature-length animated film, Walt Disney and his talented team of artists had their work cut out for themselves formulating their followup. With Bambi in active development and originally planned as Disney’s second feature, several challenges including, the additional prep work required for such a project shifted gears within the studio bumping Pinocchio as the top priority. Riding high on the financial riches of Snow White’s success, Walt Disney saw the tale of Author Carlo Collodi’s wooden puppet longing to be a real boy as a remarkable concept, bursting with imaginative opportunities for his artists to push their talents to soaring new heights. Far from a simple undertaking, Kaufman presents the early origins of Disney and his staff hammering out story details, many of which omitted from its final presentation, that took liberties from its source material to capture a scaled down adaptation without sacrificing the Disney standard. Culled from interviews and recorded internal conferences with Disney veterans including, Ward Kimball, Frank Thomas, T. Hee and of course, Walt Disney, Kaufman’s painstaking fieldwork provides an expert documentation of the struggles and artistic triumphs the Disney studio encountered on their journeys.
Collecting over 200 pieces of art ranging from the film’s gorgeous background paintings and other never before seen gems, Pinocchio: The Making of the Disney Epic visually demonstrates the film’s perfectionist style, revolutionary effect techniques and refinements of existing innovations including the multiplane camera crane that preserves its timeless majesty. From its earliest developments through its rigorous animation process, Kaufman provides added insight into the film’s Academy Award winning music, its vocal performers and promotional campaign. In addition, although regarded as a classic and landmark achievement in Disney’s history, Kaufman also shares the troublesome release of the film that was critically praised but, stunted at the box-office due to the arrival of World War II closing film distribution in countless European territories for many years. Through its magical years of creation to its premiere at Rockefeller Center’s Center Theatre and WWII’s ominous cloud darkening its full potential, Pinocchio, with assistance from countless rereleases and such, has endured, capturing the hearts and imaginations of audiences young and old since 1940.
75 impressive years later, Disney’s Pinocchio arguably stands as the studio’s finest artistic achievement where rich storytelling and skilled artistry came together in perfect harmony. Unquestionably considered one of animation’s most inspiring feats, J.B. Kaufman’s fascinating achievement provides the definitive statement on Pinocchio’s treasured history. With a foreword by Academy Award winner John Canemaker and a special final chapter by noted professor Russell Merritt, Pinocchio: The Making of the Disney Epic is the result of wishing upon a star and receiving one of the most exceptional celebrations of an animated classic.
Available now from The Walt Disney Family Foundation Press, Pinocchio: The Making of the Disney Epic can be purchased via Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and other fine retailers.