If you were to browse any children’s library, you would likely find a little red book with a stout bull on the cover. The Story of Ferdinand has found its way onto countless best of lists and even created controversy around its rebellious symbolism amidst its release in 1936. The new animated feature ‘Ferdinand‘ is no different in its progressiveness, and the film not only challenges the conventions of commonality, but includes heavy themes such as bullying, trophy sport and even meat packing plants. Director Carlos Saldanha has justifiably brought this gentle giant to life and has created a film that, just like its main character, is more than meets the eye.
For those unfamiliar with The Story Ferdinand, it’s the tale of a bull that doesn’t quite fit in with the rest of the herd. He’d rather peacefully live his life in the fields of Spain, surrounded by flowers, than be bred to fight. One day he is mistaken as the fiercest of all when he accidentally sits on the stinger of a bee, and he is chosen by a group of visiting men to compete against a matador. But when he’s actually brought to the arena, he disappoints the crowd by sitting down in protest, distracted by the smell of surrounding blossoms.
One major difference in ‘Ferdinand‘ the movie is the extension of his misadventures outside the ranch. He actually escapes as a young calf and is taken in by a young girl and her compassionate father. Then, after being mistaken as ‘fierce’ following a bee sting at the town flower festival, he’s captured as an adult and taken back to the ranch for grooming. And most significantly, it brazenly pitches vegetarianism by addressing the heartbreaking reality and difficult subject of where meat comes from. In one of the main sequences, Ferdinand (John Cena) gets an inside look at the nearby slaughterhouse when trying to rescue some of his fellow bulls.
Although there is a significant amount of serious context to regard, this movie is absolutely hysterical! The addition of animal characters add a much needed balance of humorous relief. Adults will appreciate the clever use of puns and idioms, and children will be entertained by goofy antics and enlightened by several important lessons.
‘Ferdinand‘ is a valiant and wildly fun film that charges into your heart. It visually complements its literary source and is easily one of the best pictures of the year!