The Disney: a wooden child is sold into human trafficking twice before being swallowed by a whale.
When You Wish A Star, if you’ve been good lonely toymaker like Gepeto, your dreams come true. Except this hymn to the Disney Gospel (read Mark Pinsky for more on that) shows a dangerous theology of individual responsibility. Gepeto and Jiminy Cricket are hopeless at parenting Pinocchio, the wooden puppet boy brought to life by the Blue Fairy, who clearly needs to reassess her services.
There’s fun and innocence in the early scenes as Jiminy plays amongst the clocks, Gepeto dances with his cat and goldfish, and accidentally fires his shotgun thinking Pinocchio is a burglar, not his newly-alive son. Jiminy, only appointed Pinocchio’s conscience because the Blue Fairy flirted with him doesn’t do much better. He oversleeps on the first day of the job and naive Pinocchio gets kidnapped on the way to school by the false promise of fame.
After a rousing performance of I’ve Got No Strings (every song is a sheer joy in this film) Pinocchio is locked in a cage by Stromboli who threatens to chop him up with an axe (I screamed, Mum had to ask what was wrong). And yet, both Jiminy Cricket and the returning Blue Fairy are more hung up on Pinocchio’s nose growing, rather than the fact he is hung up in a literal cage of child abuse and human trafficking.
The Blue Fairy is a serene, other-worldly apparition that visually stands-out on screen and is the only female voice in the film. She releases Pinocchio only for him to get kidnapped by the fox Honest John again. This time he’s taken to Pleasure Island, where the boys smoking and eating too much are turned into into jackasses, in the film’s second human trafficking episode. ‘You’ve had your fun, now you’ll pay’ bellows the trafficker, again giving a dangerous message that the boys themselves, not the baddies are to blame.
Pinocchio manages to escape with Jiminy’s help, only to fling himself into the belly of Monstro the whale (he’s not as friendly as the whales Dory knows). There he finds Gepeto, goldfish and all. ‘I never thought it would end this way, starving in the belly of a whale’, he says in the most despondent, understated line of the film. But this is Pinocchio’s moment: the one thing he learnt about fire saves the day as they smoke Monstro out from the inside.
In a crashing finale that you can see The Little Mermaid replicating decades later, everyone washes ashore. Back home, the drowned and dead Pinocchio is resurrected into a real boy by the voice and the flash of the Blue Fairy. Going into the belly of whale was ‘brave, true and selfless’. I’d call it stupid, but it’s not his fault. No-one has been teaching Pinocchio in the traumatic few days he’s been alive, Let’s hope Gepeto and Jiminy Cricket find a parenting class and walk with him to school from now on.
The Bake: Breadsticks and Dip
Everybody nose no trip to Italy is complete without your daily bread. I couldn’t think of a better bake to share while watching Pinocchio than breadstreaks, although my rustic was a bit rusty: it’s been a year since I last baked bread, using Brilliant Bread by Bake Off Series 3 alumni James Moreton. His easy approach with photo guides puts understanding bread and having fun baking above perfection.
My kneading still needs some work and speeding up but I was happy with the chewy inside, crusty outside baton-like breadsticks, especially as due to a catastrophic copy error the book’s recipe actually misses out how long to bake them in the oven for. You can find James’ breadsticks recipe on the Daily Record website.
Whilst the dough was proving, I followed Jack Monroe’s recipes for hummus and pesto from my go-to dinner book A Girl Called Jack. Neither need a blender, creating fresh and chunky dips that aren’t actually that dippable, which I didn’t mind. Of course you could use a blender or hand mixer if you want.
Bring the bake out when the Blue Fairy visits a trapped Pinocchio and his nose starts to grow, just over half way through the film
Post-bake chat: Pinocchio became a ‘real boy’ when he proved he was brave, true and selfless. What would you have to prove to become a ‘real girl’?
Let me know your thoughts on Pinocchio and your baking snaps using #DisneyAndBakes or commenting below. Next month we’ll get swept away with Mickey in Fantasia.