Character Appreciation: The Blue Fairy
'Awake, Pinocchio. Awake.'
A No-Faults Kinda Girl
Disney often has the habit of characters from classical stories and shaking off their complexities and 'grey areas' in order to present a wholly good or downright evil character on screen. Rarely would you find one who has managed to have their good deeds simplified, their influence toned down, for the sake of a Disney adaptation.
Well, hold on to your wings because this is where a particular wish-granting celestial being steps into the starlight.
The vast majority of people today would know her as The Blue Fairy, either through pop culture references if he haven't already seen the 1940's animated movie Pinocchio she appears in. Some of us may also have a keen awareness that she also is present in the 1883 novel the movie is based on entitled The Adventures of Pinocchio, written by Italian author Carlo Collodi. However, very few of us would know her by her original name from the novel: The Fairy with the Turquoise Hair. The name and her physical depictions have been typically altered to the better known Blue Fairy when translated from its original Italian prose, but this will help appreciate her fully.
In a story which also includes a humorous, morally-sound talking cricket who is continuously strives to help our puppet protagonist stay on the straight and narrow, why is this character appreciation post aimed at the fairy who's movie appearances are more like bookends? To answer this question in full, it would only be right to properly separate the two most prevalent versions of the character - namely, her book origin and her movie depiction.
Lets start with her movie portrayal.
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The Blue Fairy
Let us start with a fundamental truth: without the Blue Fairy, there is no movie. She has the power to gift life to inanimate objects, break them out of cages and cut down their overgrown noses, and finally grant them a human body of their own. Toss in her ability to come and go as a twinkling star, and you have yourself the most impressive tool in the box.
Next, let's consider her kindness. The Blue Fairy was not obligated to grant Geppetto's wish when he wished upon a star for his puppet to become a real boy. Appears as a sparkling, gorgeous spectacle as the man sleeps, she praises his kindness. It is then she, deriving great joy in doing so, gifts Pinocchio life with the swish of her wand. The Blue Fairy is actively seeking out those who have demonstrated goodness in their lives to reward them. Is this not how the world should work?
With power and want comes great responsibility - and the Blue Fairy isn't just dishing out dreams-come-true like a willy-nilly Santa Claus. She may find happiness in bringing the puppet to life, but she also values the lesson of earning such a privilege. In other words, she wants to teach Pinocchio what it means to be a good human. Choosing right from wrong, being truthful, brave and unselfish - Pinocchio’s fate lies entirely with him. Now, you may already be thinking: How on earth can she expect a newly sentient puppet to make the right choices? Surely he does not possess the knowledge or insight to achieve what she has told him to! The Blue Fairy does not leave him unequipped. Pinocchio finds himself armed Jiminy Cricket, who acts as a conscience telling Pinocchio exactly what to do and what not to do. Before the Blue Fairy departs, she issues one last piece of advice: be good and always let your conscience be your guide. For those of us who know the story, simply following this advice would stand you in perfect state.
As the movie demonstrated, however, Pinocchio did not follow her simple advice. Instead he let his own flawed judgement and listening to others instead of his conscience lead him astray and into danger. The Blue Fairy had to return mid movie in order to save Pinocchio from my cage and explain to him why his ever-growing news was the result of his dishonesty – encouraging him to do better. Even as he eventually learns to make good choices, his mistakes sadly result in tragedy: Pinocchio dies. And yet, our hero-in-blue chooses to focus on his few morally good acts and deems him worthy, not only of life once more, but to become the real boy he dreamed of being.
It takes a certain type of goodness to focus on the good when it is outweighed by the bad, and the movie ends as it started: with the Blue Fairy rewarding the good she sees by granting a wonderful wish. And lets not forget that she remembered the hard-working Jiminey Cricket's off-the-cuff comments about earning himself a golden badge. She truly was the fairest fairy of the Disney world.
How could you improve on Disney's depiction?
The Fairy with the Turquoise Hair
Let us have a small moment of appreciation for Collodi's choice of name - The Fairy with Turquoise Hair. A step apart from the movie version, she is more in line with the classical portrayals of magic beings, with fantisful hair colours and the ability to age. There was no need for Disney to alter this by making her a blonde bombshell. Alas, I digress. The Adventures of Pinocchio shares many common plot threads with the resulting movie, but it is first important to note that the novel's fairy is not responsible for bringing the puppet to life. Pinocchio is already sentient the moment he is brought in from the forest as a chunk of wood. He is considerably less likeable than his movie counterpart: often resorting to violence, being repeatedly misled, doesn't follow instructions, and getting himself into non-stop trouble. It is only then, after proving himself quite the liability, that he encounters the fairy with turquoise hair when she saves him a murderous encounter.
The fairy takes on the role of a mother for Pinocchio. When he foolishly refuses medicine, she persists - seeking his good health over her own pride. This is the first instance we witness her forgiving attitude, which is greatly needed for the rambunctious puppet.
In a similar fashion to the movie, it is the fairy who explains Pinocchio's dishonesty is behind his ever-growing nose and as she summons woodpeckers to chisel is back to normal she insists he learn to avoid lies. Once again, this character demonstrates a keen awareness of right and wrong, and often stands in place as the conscience for the protagonist. She later takes him in, promising that if he is a good boy who does well at school for a whole year, she will make him a real boy. Given his track record within the novel, this could have been a tall order. Yet, thanks to her encouragement and guidance, we witness Pinocchio improving. He makes better choices, doesn't resort to violence, isn't misled and demonstrates both bravery and a self-sacrificing initiative. It seems her love, devotion and influence were powerful. Her final act in the story sees her finally granting Pinocchio's wish to be a real boy, adding finery, gold, and good health to him and his father, Geppetto as part of her generosity.
A Star for the Ages
Truly, the blue fairy proves herself time and time again to be a consistent, loving, forgiving being in Pinocchio’s life – possibly his only saving grace and the only being who truly saves him when he needs it most.