You probably already knew that Disney has a habit of taking dark, twisted children’s fairy tales and turning them into sickeningly sweet happily-ever-afters. Take Sleeping Beauty for example: it’s based on a story where a married king finds a girl asleep, and can’t wake her so rapes her instead.
The 1940 version of Pinocchio is no exception. The movie is based on a story that appeared as a serial in a newspaper called The Adventures of Pinocchio, written in 1881 and 1882 by Carlo Collodi (pictured on front).
Jiminy Cricket appears as the Talking Cricket in the book, and does not play as prominent of a role.
He first appears in chapter 4 in which the truism that children do not like to have their behaviour corrected by people who know much more than they do is illustrated. Apropos, when the Talking Cricket tells Pinocchio to go back 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!
You might be happy to know that Pinocchio did learn his lesson quite soon after that—or seemed to.
While he didn’t seem to feel bad about killing the cricket (in fact, he later tells Gepetto, “It was his own fault, for I didn’t want to kill him.”), he did seem to regret not taking the cricket’s advice as he runs into more and more trouble. At last, karma catches up to Pinocchio and he gets his feet burned off.
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.
Don’t worry—Gepetto forgives him and builds him new feet, which is really more than Pinocchio deserves.
You see, when Pinocchio first became “alive” and learned to walk, the first thing he did was run off.
What’s worse is that Pinocchio leads people to believe that Gepetto has abused him, which lands Gepetto squarely in prison.