Gnostic Imagery in Disney’s <i>Pinocchio</i>

  • Tony Burke York University
Keywords: Walt Disney, Gnosticism, film, Carlo Collodi, creation myths, Apocryphon of John, Pinocchio


The right film can work wonders for helping students understand difficult concepts in religion. Disney’s Pinocchio at once provides a visual metaphor for the gnostic version of the creation of humanity and conveys the anxiety that must have been felt by prospective Gnostics as they came to the realization that their well-known and beloved traditions could yield such disconcerting interpretations. But to what extent are the apparent gnostic elements in the film intended? And do they naturally emerge from the sources (Carlo Collodi’s 1881–1883 series of short stories) used to make the film? The same questions can be applied to the sources of gnostic texts and thus open up avenues of discussion about the creation, transmission, and interpretation of ancient Christian literature. 

Author Biography

Tony Burke, York University

Tony Burke, Associate Professor of Early Christianity in the Department of Humanities at York University. Tony received his PhD from the University of Toronto's Centre for the Study of Religion, where he wrote his dissertation, "The Infancy Gospel of Thomas: The Text, its Origins, and its Transmission." Tony also holds an MA from Wilfrid Laurier University's Department of Religion and Culture (where his major field was Christian Origins, and Michel was his supervisor), and a BA in Religion and Culture from Wilfrid Laurier University.


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How to Cite
Burke, T. (2019). Gnostic Imagery in Disney’s <i>Pinocchio</i&gt;. Religious Studies and Theology, 38(1-2), 87-99.