Our 2/16/17 class started off with a presentation about the Disney Pixar movie Finding Dory. It was a cool presentation, and in my opinion it was more enjoyable than watching the movie itself. When I say that, I’m not just insulting the movie, but rather I’m commending Emma and Jason for presenting the best parts of the movie in a way that was both interesting and informative. Simply watching the movie myself, I would never have realized how thoughtful and progressive the movie’s plot was. When I watched it on my own, it just seemed like any other children’s movie sequel, but after hearing about the true purpose of the story, I have a whole new understanding and appreciation for the movie. Finding Dory was about returning characters Dory, Nemo, and Marlin from its classic predecessor Finding Nemo. Dory, the title character, is a fish with a mental disability – specifically ridiculously inconvenient short term memory loss. Throughout the movie, Dory goes on an adventure to find her parents, all the while meeting new wacky characters who each have their own disabilities and insecurities. The lesson for the audience shows itself through Marlin’s role in the movie; at the start of the film, Marlin expresses frustration and annoyance with Dory, and even doubts the various character they meet throughout the movie, however each character inevitably proves him wrong and by the end of the movie he has learned to love and appreciate Dory exactly the way she is.
After the cool presentation, we started talking about Pinocchio and his equally outrageous and wacky adventures. We picked up were we left off, discussing chapter 3, and we went group by group discussing each chapter on a deeper level. For each chapter, we talked about the writing elements as well as our personal opinions. One stark contrast between Dory and Pinocchio is that while the fish movie is very explicit and satisfying when it comes to characters learning lessons, the puppet book is extremely frustrating with any character failing to ever learn anything. That doesn’t mean that we don’t meet any redeemable characters across Pinocchio’s adventures, there are some characters like the Talking Cricket and the Fairy sister that try really hard to set Pinocchio on the right path. However, time and time again he manages to overcome their dumb life lessons and remain true to his awesome boyhood recklessness and inconsiderateness. We talked through the first few story arcs, about how he met and subsequently killed the talking cricket and failed to learn a lesson, how he met the fire eating puppet master and saved his friend but still ultimately failed to learn a lesson, and how he met the sneaky fox and cat who do their very best to be incompetent and fail to rob a child of his money and he still failed to learn a lesson.
All jokes (but not really) aside, Pinocchio as a character is still in the development stage of storybook adolescence. Even though he fails to learn any long-term life lessons, we discussed how each of his experiences seem to bring him closer to finally making a break through. While Pinocchio was completely obstinate in his encounter with cricket, he realizes as a result of this encounter how much he actually values his father Geppetto. Now of course, Pinocchio ultimately betrays his father’s trust and spends the last of their money on theater tickets, but he feels bad about it afterwards so that still counts as progress. Pinocchio’s time with Harlequin and Fire Eater shows Pinocchio’s growth when it comes to valuing the life and well-being of other people. Pinocchio realizes what it’s like to have a friend, and his compassion for his father even convinces to the puppet master to spare him from a charcoaly fate. Even so, when he is given money to bring back to Geppetto, his naivety prevents him from following the way home and he is tricked into following some impressively domesticated animals to a sketchy inn at the outskirts of a forest. This failure actually shows a great deal of progress for Pinocchio – most of his failures in the past derive from his own selfish actions and ideas, however this time it comes from a misguided idea of selflessness. He believes that if he follows the fox and cat, he would be able to exponentially increase his money so that his dad can be rich. His mistake here isn’t that he is being willingly bad or selfish, but that he failed to follow proper guidelines and acceptable reasoning when talking to and trusting strangers. If anything, this at least shows that Pinocchio is on his way to becoming a real, and good boy.