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7243 5 80358 2 7

Artwork copyright (c) 2002 Miramax Film Corp; review copyright (c) 2003 James Southall


An enchanting fantasy

After both winning Oscars for the brilliant, moving Life is Beautiful in 1997, the respective careers of Roberto Benigni and Nicola Piovani didn't take off as some - perhaps themselves included - may have predicted.  Now, mention Benigni's name to your average moviegoer and you will probably be greeted by either a wide smile or a furious grimace, such is the difference of opinion he generated both by his movie Life is Beautiful and his antics at the various award shows.  It took him five years to follow it up, but Pinocchio finally arrived in Italy 2002.  It has received only the most limited of releases Stateside (with the somewhat horrendous prospect of the voices being dubbed by the likes of James Belushi, Glenn Close, John Cleese, Eric Idle and even Regis Philbin), and so far hasn't been released at all in the UK, so I haven't seen it, but it does appear to be as lavish and bright as you may expect.

Piovani always scores Benigni's movies.  And he found a winning formula with Life is Beautiful, so why change it?  He's written a very similar score this time around, though it obviously eschews the darker passages, with a bright and breezy tone throughout.  At times it brings to mind Nino Rota's scores for Federico Fellini, with the same inherent charm present throughout.  Virtually the whole score is based on two themes, heard in "The Blue Fairy" and "The Puppet" in the first two tracks.  Each is infectious, memorable and really quite delightful.  

Unfortunately, as an album at least, the score's downside is that it is just too repetitive.  Even at a shade over 45 minutes it outlives its welcome.  For a time you get a fantasy score pretty much in the league of Edward Scissorhands, but after a while you come to realise that what you are hearing is pretty much exactly the same as what you heard a few minutes ago, and for that matter not a whole lot removed from other Piovani scores of the past.  A vocal version of the main theme, sung by Benigni, doesn't help either.  I hope he doesn't sing very often.  There are of course a few treats along the way - the playful "The Cricket", rapturous "Pinocchio's Walk" and carnival "Funforeverland" prominent among them.

Pinocchio has moments of real beauty, but it features too little base material, with the result that it ends up just being spread too thin.  Fans of Life is Beautiful's score will find much of the same, and I'm sure will enjoy this a lot, but I don't think it can quite be put in the same league.

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  1. The Blue Fairy (4:15)
  2. The Puppet (3:01)
  3. The Cat and the Fox (3:29)
  4. Pinocchio's Travels (4:07)
  5. Lucignolo (2:23)
  6. The Log (1:56)
  7. The Cricket (3:07)
  8. Unpleasant Experiences (1:56)
  9. Pinocchio's Walk (3:22)
  10. The Fairy's Kiss (3:52)
  11. The Puppet Theatre (1:19)
  12. The Death of Lucignolo (2:17)
  13. The Circus (2:15)
  14. Funforeverland (2:22)
  15. Finale (1:23)
  16. Pinocchio's Song Roberto Benigni (3:22)
  17. The Fairy's Theme (3:20)