The Coachman

The Coachman (Italian: Il Conduttore del Carro), also known as The Little Man (L'Omino), is a fictional character who appears in Carlo Collodi's 1883 book The Adventures of Pinocchio (Le avventure di Pinocchio).

The Coachman
The Adventures of Pinocchio character
The Coachman, from "L'avventure di Pinocchio".jpg
Il conduttiere del carro, as illustrated by Enrico Mazzanti
First appearanceThe Adventures of Pinocchio
Created byCarlo Collodi
In-universe information
SpeciesHuman
GenderMale
OccupationCoachman
NationalityItalian

In the novelEdit

 
A little man, broader than he is tall, tender and greasy like a ball of butter, with a rosy face, a small.
 
When they have themselves become donkeys due to their idleness. He violently breaks into their house, meticulously waxes their fur, and puts them on sale.

The Coachman is introduced in chapter XXXI, and is described as thus:

Picture for yourselves a little man, broader than he is tall, tender and greasy like a ball of butter, with a rosy face, a small, constantly laughing mouth and a thin, adorable voice of a cat wishing all the best to its master.

The coachman's name is never revealed, though he identifies himself in Chapter XXXII as merely “The Little Man” (L’Omino). He drives to Busy Bee Island (Isola delle Api Industriose) on a coach pulled by twenty-four donkeys which mysteriously wear white shoes on their hooves. By the time he arrives to take Pinocchio and Candlewick to the Land of Toys (Il Paese dei Balocchi), his carriage is completely packed, leaving Candlewick to sit in front with him and Pinocchio to ride one of the donkeys.

The donkey throws Pinocchio off and is reproached by the coachman, who comes to it and acts as if he's going to give it a kiss, but then bites half its right ear off. When Pinocchio tries again and the donkey bucks him off a second time, the coachman again reproaches the animal by biting off half its other ear. When Pinocchio successfully mounts the donkey, the animal begins to weep like a human and warns Pinocchio of the impending danger he faces.

The coachman proceeds to kidnap the delinquent children and take them to the Land of Toys, whilst singing to himself, "All night they sleep, and I never sleep..." Upon arriving at the land where, for lazy children, a paradise where they do not work or study and spend their days playing. But five months later his ears grow like donkeys and they see one with a tail and braying.

In Chapter XXXII, the coachman visits Pinocchio and Candlewick when they have themselves become donkeys due to their idleness. He violently breaks into their house, meticulously waxes their fur, and puts them on sale. Candlewick is bought by a farmer, while Pinocchio is bought by a circus ringmaster. He has become a millionaire by selling children for the donkey trade.

Disney versionEdit

The Coachman
 
The Coachman as portrayed in the 1940 Disney film
First appearancePinocchio (1940)
Voiced byCharles Judels

The Coachman appears in the 1940 film adaptation of the book by Walt Disney Productions. His voice is provided by Charles Judels, who also provides the voice of Stromboli in the film.

As opposed to the original character, he is large and physically imposing, and speaks with a harsh Cockney accent, though he does not bite his donkeys' ears. The Coachman is assisted by numerous silent black figures with ape-like arms, who lock Pleasure Island's doors for him and handle the crates used to transport donkeys with.

He meets Foulfellow and Gideon in a bar called The Red Lobster Inn and hires them to round up naughty boys for him, promising to pay them much money but specifically warning them not to double-cross him. He intimidates Foulfellow and Gideon with an incredibly frightening grin, presenting himself as a sort of demonic figure as well as an antithesis to the Blue Fairy.

The Coachman takes the boys to Pleasure Island on a stagecoach that was full of donkeys to aboard a steamboat, where he encourages them to act like "jackasses" and misbehave turning into actual donkeys as they do so. When the boys are turned into donkeys and his henchmen load the fully transformed donkeys onto the steamboat as Jiminy Cricket discovers, the Coachman sorts the donkeys who can talk from those who cannot talk, the latter being sold to places like the salt mines and the circuses. Donkeys who can still talk are taken back and put in a fenced area where they beg to be let out. The Coachman, irritated and annoyed, quotes to them while cracking a whip "Quiet! You boys have had your fun. Now pay for it!" With Jiminy Cricket's help, Pinocchio escapes from Pleasure Island before the Coachman or his minions can see them. Like Stromboli, his ultimate fate is never revealed in the film, though he presumably claims Lampwick after he becomes a donkey.

He appears as a boss in the film's video game adaptation, where he fights Pinocchio on a cliff and attacks using a donkey as well as his own whip. At the end of the boss battle, Pinocchio knocks him over the cliff.

In the Descendants novel The Isle of the Lost, the Coachman is among the villains imprisoned on the Isle of the Lost. Here, he operates a taxi cab that is pulled by normal donkeys. It is mentioned that prior to being imprisoned, the Coachman had to spend a year rounding up all the boys that were turned into donkeys.

Other appearancesEdit

 
The Coachman, as portrayed in the 1972 animated film The Adventures of Pinocchio
  • In Giuliano Cenci's 1972 animated film The Adventures of Pinocchio, the Coachman, voiced by Gianni Bonagura, is portrayed much more closely to the book than his Disney counterpart. He works alone and is portrayed as an effeminate and alluring character with a high pitched voice, who easily tricks Pinocchio and Candlewick to come to the Land of Toys. However, he is not portrayed as violently as in the book.
  • In Pinocchio's Christmas, a sleigh driver (voiced by Bob McFadden) working for a rich duke is based on the Coachman.
  • In The Adventures of Pinocchio, the character's role is fused with that of Mangiafuoco and The Terrible Dogfish into the villainous Lorenzini (portrayed by Udo Kier). Pinocchio accidentally sets the villain Lorenzini's theater on fire, causing Lorenzini to change career and begin luring unruly children to Terra Magica where the children inevitably drink cursed water which turns them into donkeys. During a struggle with Pinocchio, Lorenzini falls into the water and turns into a sea monster, which swims out to the ocean.
  • In Geppetto, Pleasure Island's ringmaster (portrayed by Usher) is loosely based on the Coachman and operates the roller coaster that turns the boys into donkeys. After Geppetto follows the roller coaster that Pinocchio is in, the ringmaster orders his roustabouts to begin loading the boat.
  • The Coachman appears in the 2002 Pinocchio film portrayed by Luis Molteni and voiced by Erik Bergmann in the English dub. He takes Pinocchio, Lucignolo, and other boys to Fun Forever Land.
  • In the live-action Italian film Pinocchio (2019), co-written, directed and co-produced by Matteo Garrone, the Coachman is portrayed by Nino Scardina.

BibliographyEdit

  • Collodi, Le Avventure di Pinocchio 1883, Biblioteca Universale Rizzoli