Dr. Toon: Altered States
Thus, Pinocchio's resurrection is no mere device; he has kept up his end of the bargain and is well on his way to becoming human even before the Blue Fairy shines her light for the final time. This is logical story progression, not clumsy manipulation. Pinocchio "dies" with his donkey ears still attached as he lies in state, a visual signifier of his sins and mistakes. This detail is more important than it seems; Pinocchio is loved and mourned as an imperfect being, a not-quite-good-enough son whose waywardness and folly can be forgiven in the end. This makes his transformation into a perfect little boy even more powerful. Pinocchio had to sacrifice himself and die, and not in the service of maudlin tear-jerking on the part of the writers. This film could not have plausibly ended any other way.
When one compares the original ending, which seems to have been in use fairly late into the film, with the final product, one can see a team of writers gradually refining their script, fleshing out a weak and hurried ending and adding details congruent with scenes and concepts shown or stated earlier in the film. The alternate ending of Pinocchio does not do justice to a comic-book version of the story, and it is inconceivable that Walt Disney, that master analyst, would have let it stand, test audience or not.
Pinocchio may have its critics, such as Mr. Barrier, but that's only fair. What truly matters is that an alternate ending for a film such as Pinocchio should represent nothing more than a stage in the film's evolution, to be used --or scrapped-- as development proceeds. Alternate endings presented to a focus group, test audience or screened for the purpose of gauging what might work at the box office is artificial, anti-creative and cynical.
Disney's writers trusted themselves despite the risks, and with good reason; Snow White was a fantastic success, they had dozens of quality short films under their collective belts and the rest of the creative team was capable of turning their script into the most sophisticated animation on the planet. Only they had the experience, storytelling savvy and intuitive knowledge to dictate how an animated film should begin -- and end. And, oh yes, the guidance of Walt Disney himself. That is why, dear readers, the alternate ending to Pinocchio, as fascinating as it may be to historians, exists as only a scrap of animation paper populated by rough stick figures.
Well, maybe this is old news but it seems that Robert Rodriguez is prepared to begin shooting a live-action version of The Jetsons. Two vital components of the classic LAAF (Live-Action Animated Feature) are already in place: The first is the futility of adapting a well-established animated property into live action. Second, while Mr. Rodriguez has proven to be a virtual one- man film crew, his only animation credits over the course of his career is a "Special Thanks" credit in a 2007 anime feature and an animated title sequence for his short student film, "Bedhead" (1991). Ah, Hollywood, will ye never learn? Open the bay doors, Captain; one large bomb on the way!
Martin "Dr. Toon" Goodman is a longtime student and fan of animation. He lives in Anderson, Indiana.