Australian Council on Children and the Media

Pinocchio (1940)

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Not suitable under 5; parental guidance to 8 (violent, scary, dark and sad themes and scenes, depiction of delinquent behaviour, alcohol and tobacco consumption)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Pinocchio (1940)
  • a review of Pinocchio (1940) completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 16 November 2020.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 5 Not suitable due to violent, scary, dark and sad themes and scenes, depiction of delinquent behaviour, alcohol and tobacco consumption.
Children aged 5–8 Parental guidance recommended due to violent, scary and sad themes and scenes, depiction of delinquent behaviour, alcohol and tobacco consumption.
Children aged 9 and over Ok for this age group.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Pinocchio (1940)
Classification: G
Consumer advice lines: The content is very mild in impact
Length 88 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Woodworker Geppetto (voiced by Christian Rub) is delighted when the Blue Fairy (voiced by Evelyn Venable) grants him his wish, and his masterpiece, a wooden marionette, comes to life. However, before the Blue Fairy can turn Pinocchio (voiced by Dick Jones) into a real boy, he must prove himself brave, truthful and unselfish, and to help him tell right from wrong, she assigns Jiminy Cricket (voiced by Cliff Edwards) as his conscience. Temptations, however, are lurking everywhere, and soon Pinocchio finds himself in serious trouble. Will he actually be able to prove himself worthy to become a real boy?

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Disney Classic; Fantasy; Adventure; Right vs. Wrong; Friendship.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie including:

  • One of Geppetto's cuckoo clocks shows figurines of an angry mother smacking the bare bottom of a crying child.
  • Puppet show manager Stromboli threatens to turn Pinocchio into firewood and locks him up in a cage.
  • ‘The Coachman’ hires two henchmen, Honest John the Fox and Gideon the Cat, to lure "stupid little boys" to ‘Pleasure Island’. He turns out to be a vicious trafficker: once at "Pleasure Island", the recruited boys are turned into donkeys and sold to the salt mines or the circus.
  • Honest John indicates that they are happy to kill someone for a generous pay-check.
  • One of the attractions at ‘Pleasure Island’ is the ‘Rough House’, where the boys are encouraged to pick a fight and take part in mass brawls. Lampwick, Pinocchio's companion, suggests to go in and "poke somebody in the nose, just for the fun of it".
  • Once the boys have turned into donkeys, they are handled roughly, being pulled by the ears, having their clothes ripped off, getting kicked, and thrown into little cages.
  • The whale that swallows Geppetto, and later Pinocchio, is a vicious, angry character who tries to kill them.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • Honest John and Gideon the Cat are rather peculiar and creepy characters.
  • The ‘Pleasure Island’ is quite disturbing: wagon loads of "stupid little boys" are transported to this mystical place, where they are told to do all the things that good children are not supposed to do: stuff themselves with sweets, fight, smoke, drink, smash, and destroy things.
  • Being bad and naughty at ‘Pleasure Island’ makes the boys transform into donkeys. In one scene, a donkey has not lost his ability to speak yet, desperately cries that he wants to go home to his Mama. He and the other donkeys are devastated and distressed.
  • Lampwick is seen panicking when he realises that he is transforming into a donkey, and is frantically shouting for help, kicking, screaming.
  • After the fight with the whale, Geppetto finds Pinocchio washed up at the beach, lifelessly lying in the water with his face under water. Geppetto is devastated and mourns the death of his beloved Pinocchio.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • The above-mentioned scenes and images are likely scare or disturb some children in this age group.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

  • Nothing further of concern.

Product placement

  • None noted.

Sexual references

  • None noted.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • One of Geppetto's cuckoo clocks shows figurines of an angry mother smacking the bare bottom of a crying child.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • One of Geppetto's cuckoo clocks shows a little figurine getting drunk.
  • Geppetto's pocket watch has beer glasses as handles.
  • Gideon the Cat smokes cigars and drinks beer.
  • One attraction at ‘Pleasure Island’ is ‘Tobacco Row’, where the boys are offered endless amounts of cigars, cigarettes, and chewing tobacco, and encouraged to "smoke their heads off".
  • Lampwick and Pinocchio smoke cigars and drink beer, and Lampwick teases Pinocchio that he smokes, "like me grandmother", and encourages him to take bigger drags. This makes Pinocchio feel awfully sick.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Jackass.

In a nutshell

Pinocchio, first released in 1940, was Disney's second feature length movie after Snow White and Seven Dwarfs. The story gives a lot of food for thought about morals, resisting temptations, doing the right thing, and learning painful lessons. Along with positive messages and role models come a lot of dark and disturbing, sad, scary, violent and mature themes and scenes, that make the film unsuitable for a preschool audience under 5, and parental guidance is recommended for children under 9.

The main messages from this movie are that there might be dire consequences if you decide to do the wrong thing despite knowing better, and that good things come from being brave, truthful and unselfish.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Honesty
  • Courage
  • Selflessness
  • Listening to your conscience
  • Friendship.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • Giving in to temptations and doing the wrong thing despite knowing better
  • Lying
  • Being arrogant.

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