Pinocchio and the Film’s Life Lessons

By Aylin Montoya

Disney’s Pinocchio premiered on February 23, 1940, receiving critical acclaim and today is  considered one of the greatest animated films of all time. Pinocchio is filled with music and wonderful acting, which led the film to win an award for best song (for “When You Wish Upon A Star”) and for best original score. But apart from the music and story, Pinocchio leaves the audience with important timeless life lessons, highlighted by the characters and their journey throughout the film. 

   A crucial lesson in Pinocchio is to be wary of finding the easy route in life, which is embodied in the setting of Pleasure Island. Pinocchio follows Lampwick to Pleasure Island where they can play, drink alcohol, smoke, and do everything they want without supervision. It is a place where children who do not want responsibilities get tricked into having a life without limits. The result of living a life without responsibilities? In the end, all the children get turned into donkeys by a curse that is on the island which turns naughty boys into “jackasses” with the Coachmen then taking them hostage. It is conveyed in a dark way for a children’s movie, but the lesson remains clear. The children turned into donkeys as a consequence of taking the easy route in life, Pleasure Island, then falling victim to that same mentality of living a lazy life, causing them to become donkeys. The same easy route they thought would make them free only trapped them into a life filled with limits, highlighting how bad habits and being lazy only lead to consequences and being trapped in a destructive way of life. 

     From the beginning of the film, Pinocchio refuses to listen to his conscience, who is embodied by Jiminy Cricket. Jiminy warns Pinocchio about doing so as he states, “Go ahead, make a fool of yourself then maybe you’ll listen to your conscience.” Jiminy’s warning to Pinocchio is specifically illustrated in a crucial dramatic scene of the film. Pinocchio is drinking beer and smoking a cigar while Lampwick laughs as he starts to turn into a donkey. At this point in the movie Jiminy Cricket has figured out what is going on in the island and goes to warn Pinocchio. As he goes to find Pinocchio, Lampwick is complaining about Pinocchio’s conscience as he states, “Where does he get that stuff from?”, because to Lampwick, he knows everything and conscience is just an oppressive force to not be free to live life. Pinocchio continues to drink his beer until he notices Lampwick start to transform and it stops him right in his tract because reality has hit him. By the time Lampwick notices he has turned into a donkey, his laugh becomes a bray and he gets hoofs. He kicks around the room and leaps until he stops at a mirror, but instead of seeing the reality, he breaks the mirror. Lampwick refused to see his mistake until the very end and he never listened to his conscience, which only led him to make mistakes that could have been avoided had he reflected on his actions. It is because Pinocchio finally listens to Jiminy right before he fully transforms that he is able to escape. Everybody makes mistakes and we should learn from them, but there are mistakes that can be avoided if we can reflect on what the right thing to do is. 

     Another important lesson Pinocchio teaches is that reaching goals takes time and at times hardships happen, but it is important to keep going. Once Pinocchio and Jiminy Cricket get off of Pleasure Island a new hardship is confronted: a big cliff that only leads to an ocean with turbulent waves. Pinocchio’s journey towards home (and becoming a real boy as he wishes) is not over, as he is confronted with a cliff where he must dive into the unknown. It highlights that in order to get to a good place, he had to go through a worse place first. Pinocchio knows the journey home is going to be difficult, but he still leaps forward and swims with Jiminy Cricket through the turbulent sea. What follows is more hardship, but Pinocchio does not give up, and in the end he does reach home and meets up again with his father, Geppetto. His wish of becoming a real boy does happen in the end, despite the difficulties he had to go through, because he did not give up on his journey. 

     Sometimes it feels as if plans are not going well and we can feel like giving up on our goals, but it is important to keep going because journeys take time and often hardships happen. Like Pinocchio, learn from your mistakes and like Jiminy Cricket teaches Pinocchio, don’t forget to listen to your conscience. You can reach your goals so keep going!