This will be the final entry for Pinocchio and it involves a moment that deeply disturbed me the older I got. But before I get there, I need to tell you how Pinocchio and company get into this mess in the first place.
Searching for (and escaping from) Monstro, Pinocchio (1940)
So….while Pinocchio is off getting into all kinds of trouble (i.e. Stromboli and Pleasure Island), poor Geppetto has been waiting and waiting (along with Figaro the cat and Cleo the goldfish). Finally, he packs up and goes looking for his wayward son, eventually ending up far out at sea, where his ship is swallowed by Monstro the whale (all of this is relayed to Pinocchio by a message from the Blue Fairy).
Yup…that’s Monstro (I had to be reassured as a kid that most whales weren’t like this)
Monstro IS a pretty disturbing character if you think about it. He’s a cross between a sperm whale (hence the teeth) and a blue whale (overall size) and possesses a vile temper to boot. Even little Jiminy Cricket has heard of this monster and it’s all bad news: Monstro swallows “entire ships” and is not to be trifled with. Nevertheless, Pinocchio wants his father back, so off the pair goes to take a stroll on the ocean floor in search of Monstro (the very mention of the name sends any and all sea life fleeing for their lives). Since Pinocchio is made of wood, he doesn’t have to worry about breathing underwater (as to why Jiminy can do it, being a cricket and all, well, it IS a Disney movie, so anything is possible).
Side note: the animator who created these fish is still alive at the ripe old age of 103
After much searching, Pinocchio is reunited with Geppetto when Monstro pursues a school of tuna for a meal, bringing along Pinocchio in the process (but not Jiminy, he’s stuck outside!). It’s a happy reunion, except for the awkward moment when Geppetto finds his son has grown donkey ears and a tail, but since they’re together again, all is forgiven. Pinocchio wants to escape, but even when Geppetto patiently explains that “nothings comes out” once Monstro has eaten, that determined puppet isn’t giving up. He plans to make the whale sneeze by creating lots of smoke, and the sneeze should force out the small raft that Geppetto built a while back.
The plan works!!! Monstro lets out a mighty sneeze and the raft is sent way out into the ocean, but now the great whale is furious (and I do mean FURIOUS!!) that prey has managed to escape him, so he sets off in hot pursuit. The only hope Geppetto, Pinocchio and company have now is to reach the safety of the rocks on shore before Monstro smashes them all to pieces. They nearly make it, but Monstro smashes the raft, forcing Pinocchio to frantically swim the rest of the way, dragging Geppetto along so he doesn’t drown.
Giant whale incoming: AHHHHHHH!!!!!!
This is the first disturbing moment: in the last part of the chase, Monstro becomes truly frightening (even more so than before), and when you see this shot up above, how can anyone not be terrified, especially if you’re a little kid?
At any rate, Pinocchio makes it to the edge of the rocks mere moments before Monstro comes barrelling in like a freight train, smashing the rocks to pieces and sending everyone flying in separate directions.
Geppetto, Figaro, Cleo and even Jiminy are all shown on the beach, but where is Pinocchio? Well…the answer is what made me add this to the Disturbing list. Jiminy is searching for Pinocchio when suddenly we hear this terrible gasp and see THIS:
Now I know technically Pinocchio hasn’t drowned (he’s made of wood and all that) and it was the force of Monstro’s impact that likely killed him but COME ON DISNEY!!! This is a disturbing, horrifying image. Granted it only lasts for a moment, but this image has been permanently burned into my brain. It is messed up that they would show a kid (wooden or not) dead like this. And it’s a pretty major shift considering in the previous animated film, when Snow White falls “dead” we only see her arm as she collapses to the floor.
Of course I should mention that we do get our happy ending shortly thereafter. The Blue Fairy determines that Pinocchio has done very well and brings him back to life, but this time as a real flesh and blood human boy, to the overwhelming joy of Geppetto, Jiminy and everyone else.
Despite the happy ending, the entire encounter with Monstro is very disturbing and rightly deserves to be included on this list. Let me know what you think about this scene in the comments below, did you find it disturbing as well?
For more Disturbing Disney, see also:
Disturbing Disney #1: The Coachman in Pinocchio (1940)
Disturbing Disney #2: The truth of Pleasure Island in Pinocchio (1940)
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