If you have fond memories of the story of Pinnochio — the magical puppet who comes to life, befriends an adorable singing cricket, and earns his wish to become a real boy — you haven’t read the original version.
Disney has made a fortune out of the practice of telling fairy tales in a family-friendly way. Not all fairy tales originally ended with everyone living happily ever after. Take Pinnochio, for example…
In The Adventures of Pinnochio, as the story appeared as a newspaper serial in 1881 and 1882, Author Carlo Collodi depicted a somewhat more somber story. His story had a cricket named Jiminy, and — like his cartoon counterpart — he is able to talk. Rather than become the close confidant of Pinnochio, however, they have a rather antagonistic relationship. Consider the moment Jiminy advises Pinnochio to return home:
At these last words, Pinocchio jumped up in a fury, took a hammer from the bench, and threw it with all his strength at the Talking Cricket.
Perhaps he did not think he would strike it. But, sad to relate, my dear children, he did hit the Cricket, straight on its head.
With a last weak “cri-cri-cri” the poor Cricket fell from the wall, dead!
Disney’s version shows the puppet learning to dance as he sings, “I’ve Got No Strings on Me.” The original Pinnochio didn’t do much dancing, probably owing to a tragic childhood accident:
As he no longer had any strength left with which to stand, he sat down on a little stool and put his two feet on the stove to dry them. There he fell asleep, and while he slept, his wooden feet began to burn. Slowly, very slowly, they blackened and turned to ashes.
Fortunately, Gepetto makes him new feet — a pretty nice gesture, considering that Geppetto had spent time in jail because Pinnochio was spreading lies around town to the effect that he had been abused by the puppet maker.
With his new feet, Pinnochio has a chance to start over with a clean slate. The would-be boy fails to learn his lesson and falls in with a crowd that convinces him he can grow a tree of gold by planting gold coins. These folk turn on Pinnochio, and he exclaims:
“And they ran after me and I ran and ran, till at last they caught me and tied my neck with a rope and hanged me to a tree, saying, ‘Tomorrow we’ll come back for you and you’ll be dead and your mouth will be open, and then we’ll take the gold pieces that you have hidden under your tongue.'”
The story was supposed to end there, but newspaper editors convinced Collodi to add additional chapters that softened the story a bit. Pinnochio is saved from the homicidal (puppetcidal?) mob. Good ol’ Jiminy comes back as a disembodied spirit and saves the day by helping Pinnochio and Gepetto, but not before reminding Pinnochio of what he had done:
Father and son looked up to the ceiling, and there on a beam sat the Talking Cricket.
“Oh, my dear Cricket,” said Pinocchio, bowing politely.
“Oh, now you call me your dear Cricket, but do you remember when you threw your hammer at me to kill me?”
“You are right, dear Cricket. Throw a hammer at me now. I deserve it! But spare my poor old father.”
“I am going to spare both the father and the son. I have only wanted to remind you of the trick you long ago played upon me, to teach you that in this world of ours we must be kind and courteous to others, if we want to find kindness and courtesy in our own days of trouble.”
“You are right, little Cricket, you are more than right, and I shall remember the lesson you have taught me…”