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Disney’s Sanitizing Pinocchio Would Kill Live-Action Remake

Disney is continuing its live-action remakes with Pinocchio, which is streaming directly on Disney+. The studio has the ability to alter specific elements of the original 1940 animation, certainly those that are no longer (and never were) acceptable. However, if Disney sanitizes the live action Pinocchio too much removing story-relevant material, it risks completely ruining the remake.

It was announced in 2015 that Disney is redoing the animation Pinocchio into a live-action film, following in the footsteps of the live-action remake of Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, The Jungle Book, and Aladdinamong others. Pinocchio — which was released the same year as Guillermo del Toro’s version of Pinocchio – will remain fairly faithful to the history of the animated film. However, the Disney classic, while a heartwarming tale of a wooden puppet wanting to be a real boy, was pretty dark. The story was about making moral and conscientious choices in a world where the temptation to do the opposite was around every corner. Pinocchio had to go through difficult, even dangerous times to learn his lesson. But before that, the beloved wooden puppet experiences the not-so-innocent parts of life. Befriending Lampwick and traveling to Pleasure Island sees Pinocchio smoking, gambling, vandalizing, and drinking. The worst part about this whole ordeal is that the boys are lured there so the coachman can sell them as slavers. Still, Pinocchio is sinister (and the 19th-century novel it’s based on even more so).

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Related: Why Netflix and Disney Both Have Pinocchio Movies in 2022

Live action is unlikely Pinocchio going to keep all of those elements in the movie, but getting rid of them would be ruining the point of the story. Pinocchio needed to experience things like peer pressure, dangerous situations, and run-ins with deceitful and cunning people to know what not to do. These are all temptations in a world where he is supposed to prove himself. Without going through such adversity, Pinocchio’s final act of saving Geppetto and becoming a real boy wouldn’t have been so effective. After all, Pinocchio is a wooden boy who’s new to the living world and doesn’t understand right from wrong, who to trust and why he shouldn’t do certain things at his age – and by himself, nothing less. So while the slave labor portion of the animated film could be cut (for obvious reasons), meeting Lampwick and experiencing some hardship adds dimension to this cautionary tale.


Will Pinocchio avoid the problem of Disney’s “dark” live-action remake?

There is a chance Pinocchio will avoid dark aspects in his narrative. The studio has a history of sanitizing its own properties when it comes to redoing them. Maleficent, for example, twisted the story of the eponymous character so that his actions sound more like an antihero than a villain. The same thing happened in Cruel2021’s live-action villain character first introduced in animation 101 Dalmatians. Cruella was no longer a reprehensible woman, but a misunderstood figure who plotted revenge against the mother who did not want her.


Disney has long maintained an impeccable image, offering a wealth of family-friendly movies and TV shows accessible to everyone. However, a quick look at some of the studio’s past films – like Pinocchio, The Hunchback of Notre Dameand even Pirates of the Caribbean — indicates a number of darker, more mature turns that Disney has taken. Maleficent and Cruella’s characterizations have been changed somewhat to fit a different narrative, and it’s possible the same could happen with Pinocchio’s journey as well. If Disney retains at least a portion of by Pinocchio darker storytelling elements, then the live-action remake will have managed to avoid the Maleficent and Cruel problems.


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