This article was submitted in 2000, but was never added to the site.
Contributed by Mikazo.
First off, Pleasure Island was pure symbolism. The kids get spirited away to an island where they can smoke, play games, fight, etc., and put all their worries aside. In the end, however, the boys get turned into donkeys and are sent to work as menial laborers to places such as the salt mines. It seems that what the writer or writers were trying to say was that this happens in real life: if you fart around and waste your life now, then you’ll be a jackass working in the salt mines as an adult. They just had a totally different way of portraying that situation (i.e. the boys physically getting turned into donkeys by some unknown and unseen force).
The coachman, who takes all the kids to Pleasure Island, is a character similar to Willy Wonka. He is basically like a christ child who’s responsible for weeding out the stupid and unruly and putting them to work. He also represents a path that some people take, where they find the world of fun and games, and then later pay for it. Of course, I disagree with his methods. A stupid kid can grow into a wise adult. However, a stupid adult usually stays stupid. I feel like he should be weeding out the stupid adults. But, he’s just an anthropomorphic version of the fate that some kids unknowingly and unthinkingly choose.
I’m moving on to another character, John Worthington Foulfellow, who was the graceful and charismatic fox that conned Pinocchio and several other kids. I’m looking at his clothes: the top hat, the white theater gloves, the cape, and the pant legs that hook around the bottoms of the feet. An interesting thing is that he’s dressing like the upper class; however, his clothes are patched and worn. Also, when he looks at Pinocchio’s book, he looks at it upside-down when pretending to read it. It’s odd to think of where he actually came from or why he didn’t get an education. Perhaps schooling wasn’t open to non-humans, so he had to resort to thievery and trickery to get money, all the while dreaming of being wealthy. Or he simply decided that he didn’t need an education to make cold, hard, instant cash. This character seems to be the embodiment of empty promises and traps. However, when striking a deal with the coachman in the pub, he recoils with fear when the coachman describes his plans to steal kids away. Then he responds with frightened “yessir’s” when the coachmen tells him what to do. It seems like he’s also a pawn, someone who’s used often by the truly wealthy. I think that with his skills in conning people and his persistence, he would’ve made a good used car salesman, army recruiter, or credit card advertiser, and get a steady paycheck instead of unreliable street deals. He’s just too damn good at that stuff.
Who else? Gideon, who was Foulfellow’s feline companion. I can’t seem to find a relation between him and the other messages of the film, but he seems to be the lost soul in the movie. He never says a word and doesn’t seem to have any paths or goals. He probably is incompetent, which explains why he follows Foulfellow around helping him gain money.
Those were some of the more striking things in the movie. The writers were trying to paint a physical picture of fate. This film really ought to be used in career planning classes in high school.