The Adventures of Pinocchio (1996 film)

The Adventures of Pinocchio

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Steve Barron
Produced by Heinz Bibo
Raju Patel
Jeffrey M. Sneller
Written by Sherry Mills
Steve Barron
Tom Benedek
Barry Berman
Based on The Adventures of Pinocchio
by Carlo Collodi
Music by Rachel Portman
Lee Holdridge
David Goldsmith
Craig Taubman
Cinematography Juan Ruiz Anchía
Edited by Sean Barton
Distributed by New Line Cinema
Release dates
  • July 24, 1996 (1996-07-24)
Running time
96 minutes
Country Czech Republic
United Kingdom
United States
Language English
Budget $25 million
Box office $15,094,530

The Adventures of Pinocchio is a 1996 fantasy adventure film based on Carlo Collodi's original novel of the same name, directed by Steve Barron, written by Sherry Mills, Steve Barron, Tom Bender and Barry Berman, and starring Martin Landau, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Rob Schneider, Udo Kier, Bebe Neuwirth, David Doyle and Geneviève Bujold.


Mister Geppetto (Martin Landau) is an earnest woodcutter. Years ago, he carved the image of his heart into a pine tree for his secret love Leona (Geneviève Bujold), but lightning hit the pine tree. A few years later, Geppetto finds the pine tree again, but it splits in half and rolls down the bank, landing at his feet. Geppetto is intrigued upon his discovery and takes the log home. He discovers that the pine log refuses to be burned, and so he decides to carve the new puppet with it. His puppet named Pinocchio (Jonathan Taylor Thomas) is soon mysteriously animated by a somewhat sentient force after his creation. Pinocchio approaches the woodcutter, initially alarming him. After a chase throughout the town, Geppetto finally finds Pinocchio and starts teaching him about how to behave. While wandering through town, Pinocchio becomes involved with two thieves Volpe and Felinet (Rob Schneider and Bebe Neuwirth) who attempt to flatter Pinocchio. Geppetto comes to the rescue by getting Pinocchio away from Volpe and Felinet and warns Pinocchio to mix with the right people. Volpe and Felinet go to the puppet master Lorenzini (Udo Kier) who owns a luxurious puppet theatre. Felinet tells him about Pinocchio, and Lorenzini appears interested, so he visits Geppetto that afternoon to barter for Pinocchio. However, although Pinocchio is somewhat taken to Lorenzini, Geppetto refuses to sell Pinocchio and instead sells some of his own marionettes.

During the meeting, however, Pinocchio accidentally falls out of the window and ends up following a group of children to the local school, where he becomes fascinated by learning, but he gets into a scuffle with Lampwick (Corey Carrier) and his friend Saleo (Richard Claxton) who bully him and prompt him to assault them. When Pinocchio lies about it, his nose begins growing longer. The Professor (John Sessions) punishes Pinocchio by forcing him to leave the school. Out of bitterness, Pinocchio causes a commotion in a bakery in which the baker's wife (Dawn French) causes more damage than the puppet. Geppetto is held responsible for the puppet's actions and is arrested. While Geppetto spends the night in a prison cell, Pinocchio returns home and meets "the voice of truth" in the form of a wise and optimistic cricket named "Pepe" (voiced by David Doyle). He promises to help Pinocchio to become a real boy, if he will start behaving properly. The next day, Geppetto and Pinocchio stand before the judge (Jerry Hadley) as the baker's wife sways the court in her favor. The judge rules that unless Geppetto can pay for the damages, he will be sent to a debtors' prison for three years. Lorenzini steps in and offers to pay off the debt, on the condition that Pinocchio be handed over to his custody. Geppetto strongly refuses but eventually gives in, believing that perhaps the puppet will be better off that way.

Pinocchio comes to enjoy the theater and also comes to believe that Lorenzini loves him as much as his father did, especially after receiving few golden coins from him. Though Pepe tells him that Lorenzini is just using him for riches and fame. Pinocchio comes to realize this as he performs in Lorenzini's play, and manages to save several puppets from being burned by the cruel Lorenzini. As he escapes, he accidentally sets the theater aflame. He floats away down the river, passing through the woodlands to a quiet monastery. Volpe and Felinet catch up with him and manage to swindle him out of the golden coins by telling him that if he buries them in the ground, they will grow into a tree of miracles that will turn him into a real boy. Pepe scolds Pinocchio and tells him that miracles are actually made in the heart. As expected, Volpe and Felinet steal the coins while Pinocchio is occupied.

Meanwhile, Geppetto has returned to the puppet theater to try to barter for Pinocchio only to find it burning. He and Leona begin searching the forest for Pinocchio after finding a piece of Pinocchio's shirt on a tree. Pinocchio, however, sees a wagon full of children going down the road, among them Lampwick and Saleo, who invite him to join them on a trip to Terra Magica, a hidden funfair for boys where visitors can engage in all sorts of activity, including bad behavior without repercussions. While going past the waterfall entrance, Pinocchio's hat falls off and washes up on the beach. Geppetto finds it and assumes Pinocchio is lost at sea. Finally realizing how much he loves Pinocchio like a son, Geppetto decides to venture out to find him.

Meanwhile, while riding a roller coaster, Pinocchio discovers that the water of Terra Magica is a cursed fluid which upon consumption turns humans into creatures symbolic of their behavior (in this case, the badly behaving boys are transformed into "jackasses"). Lampwick, Saleo, and several other boys turn into donkeys while Pinocchio only ends up with wooden donkey ears. Pinocchio when realizes that the entire trip is a scheme by Lorenzini, who is seeking to regain his fortune by turning the boys into donkeys and selling them off. Pinocchio releases Lampwick, Saleo, and the donkeys and in the ensuing fight, Lorenzini falls into a fountain filled with the water which horribly mutates him as he flees diving into the sea. Pinocchio, the boys and the donkeys all escape Terra Magica (trampling all of Lorenzini's henchmen to death in the process), though both Lampwick and Saleo remain with Pinocchio to keep him company.

Leona finds Pinocchio and tells him that Geppetto has gone out to sea to find him. Pinocchio decides to give chase and bring Geppetto back, but while rowing, he is ambushed and devoured by a sea monster. From the strong smell of rotten chili peppers, Pinocchio realizes that it is actually the fully transformed Lorenzini, remembering his fondness for them. Pinocchio eventually finds Geppetto and shares a warm reunion with him. As they try to climb through Lorenzini's throat, Pinocchio lies about hating his life and his nose grows so long that it puts pressure on Lorenzini's throat, causing him to cough so much that Pinocchio and Geppetto are rocketed out of his mouth and sent back to shore while Lorenzini drowns and suffocates to death, his body sinking to the ocean floor.

As Pinocchio and Geppetto embrace, the same mysterious force appears again, this time turning Pinocchio into a human child. While returning home with Geppetto, Leona, Saleo and Lampwick, Pinocchio spots Volpe and Felinet and decides to pay them back for the trouble they caused him. He tells them about Terra Magica and the cursed water, but adds that if they drink it while holding a rock, it will turn to gold. They fall for it and end up turning into a real fox and cat, afterwhich both are captured by a farmer and kept as pets.

Later on, Lampwick, Saleo, and all of the other donkeys turn back into boys for reforming. One day while playing, Pinocchio and Lampwick accidentally knock over a cart of logs. Pinocchio takes one to Geppetto and asks him to carve him a girlfriend, much to Geppetto's surprise.



Nearly ten years before the film was eventually made, Director Steve Barron and Jim Henson were considering the idea of a live-action version of Pinocchio. They approached Disney with this idea, but Disney turned down the project. Years later, producer Peter Locke sent Barron a script for a film based on the Carlo Collodi novel. Barron heavily rewrote the script. The project then finally got off the ground.


It was shot in Croatia, Prague, Český Krumlov, and High Force. For the character of Pinocchio, a complex animatronic puppet created by Jim Henson's Creature Shop was used with stop-motion. Pepe, the talking cricket, is computer-animated. One of the biggest changes in the filming was replacing Wallace Shawn, with David Doyle as the voice of Pepe the talking cricket. However Shawn's voice as Pepe can still be heard in the trailer for the film and he is even credited in the trailer.

Rachel Portman's score features saxophone solos by David Roach.

Box office

The Adventures of Pinocchio was made on a budget of $25 million. Because it only generated $15 million revenue, the film was a box office bomb.

Critical reception

Critically, the film received a "rotten" 27% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. On the television review series Siskel & Ebert, Roger Ebert was disappointed with the film, while Gene Siskel praised the special effects.[1]

In her seminar "The Persistent Puppet: Pinocchio's Heirs in Contemporary Fiction and Film," Rebecca West finds the film to be relatively faithful to the original novel, although she notes major differences such as the replacement of the Blue Fairy by the character of Leona.[2]


The Adventures of Pinocchio: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by Stevie Wonder, Brian May, Sissel (songs) and Rachel Portman (score)
Released July 26, 1996
Genre Score
Length 64:38
Label London/Decca
No. TitleWriter(s)Performer(s) Length
1. "II Colosso"  Brian May, Lee HoldridgeJerry Hadley, Sissel Kyrkjebø, Brian May, Just William 7:36
2. "Luigi's Welcome"  Spencer Proffer, David Goldsmith (lyricist), HoldridgeJerry Hadley 2:33
3. "All for One"  Craig TaubmanThe Morling School Ensemble with Jonathan Shell 2:27
4. "Kiss Lonely Good-Bye (with orchestra)"  Stevie WonderStevie Wonder 4:39
5. "Hold On to Your Dream (with orchestra)"  WonderWonder 4:21
6. "Theme from Pinocchio"  Rachel Portman  7:17
7. "Lorenzini"  Portman  3:22
8. "Terra Magica"  Portman  3:56
9. "Pinnocchio Becomes a Real Boy"  Portman  5:10
10. "Kiss Lonely Good-Bye (Harmonica with orchestra)"  WonderWonder 4:39
11. "Pinocchio's Evolution"  WonderGeppetto's Workshop 3:46
12. "What Are We Made Of"  MayMay, Sissel 3:41
13. "Hold On to Your Dream"  WonderWonder 6:00
14. "Kiss Lonely Good-Bye"  WonderWonder 5:02
Total length:


A straight-to-video sequel was released in 1999 called The New Adventures of Pinocchio. Landau reprised his role as Geppetto, while Kier was recast as Lorenzini's estranged wife, Madame Flambeau (they were the only two actors to return in the film). Gabriel Thomson played the title role and replaced Jonathan Taylor Thomas. It was shot in Luxembourg City, Luxembourg. Like the first movie, the animatronics effects were made by Jim Henson's Creature Shop.


  1. "Siskel & Ebert - The Adventures Of Pinocchio (1996)". At the Movies (U.S. TV series). YouTube. Retrieved 2011-05-12.
  2. West, Rebecca. "The Persistent Puppet: Pinocchio's Heirs in Contemporary Fiction and Film". Fathom Archive. The University of Chicago Library: Digital Collections. Retrieved 2008-09-30.

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