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Ferdinand the Bull

A Special Cartoon

Release Date : November 25, 1938

Synopsis

Ferdinand is a quiet, peaceful young bull who only wants to stop and smell the flowers. But, when he is stung by a bee, the townspeople believe he is ferocious and take him to the bullfight ring!

Characters

Ferdinand the Bull

Credits

Director
Dick Rickard
Animation
Bernard Garbutt
Hamilton Luske
Milt Kahl
Bob Stokes
John Bradbury
Stan Quackenbush
Jack Campbell
Ward Kimball
Don Lusk

Awards

Academy Award Winner (Short Subjects - Cartoons.)

Inside Jokes

Ward Kimball drew the line of matadors that enter the bull ring as caricatures of Disney artists. They are, in order, Bill Tytla, Fred Moore, Art Babbit, Ham Luske, and Jack Campbell. The head matador was Walt Disney, with Kimball himself following after as his sword carrier.

Cut Scenes

Some smoking scenes have been cut from this short, as has a final scene showing the shadow of the cart driver taking Ferdinand home.

Video

United States
Walt Disney Mini Classics : Willie the Operatic Whale
Cartoon Classics : Limited Gold Editions II : How the Best Was Won : 1933-1960
Germany
Willie the Operatic Whale
Donald Geht in die Luft
France
Les Chefs-d'Oeuvre de Walt Disney
Italy
Willie, the Operatic Whale
Cartoon Classics : Limited Gold Editions II : Cartoni Animati da Oscar
I Capolavori di Walt Disney

Laserdiscs

United States
The Prince and the Pauper / Willie the Operatic Whale / Peter and the Wolf
Cartoon Classics : Limited Gold Editions II : How the Best Was Won : 1933-1960
Japan
Winnie the Pooh and a Day for Eeyore
The Academy Award Review of Walt Disney Cartoons

DVD

United States
Walt Disney Animation Collection : Volume 6 : The Reluctant Dragon
Timeless Tales Volume 2
Disney Rarities: Celebrated Shorts, 1920s - 1960s
Germany
Zauberhafte Marchenwelt 5
Weihnachtspass mit Micky and Donald
Italy
Walt Disney Le Fiabe 4
United Kingdom
Walt Disney's Fables : Volume 5

Television

The Ink and Paint Club: Episode 36: Award Winners II

Original Animator's Drafts


Page 1

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Page 3

Page 4

Page 5

Page 6

Page 7

Page 8

Page 9

Technical Specification

Color Type: Technicolor
Animation Type: Standard animation
Sound Mix: Mono
Aspect Ratio: 1.37 : 1
Negative Format: 35mm
Print Format: 35mm
Cinematographic Process: Spherical
Original Language: English

Released by RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.

Comments

From Ryan Kilpatrick at The Disney Film Project : This is a unique stretch of shorts as we finish up 1938. The last three shorts of that year are all different from the normal Disney fare, for varying reasons. The first of these is Ferdinand the Bull, the Academy Award winner that has rightfully been hailed as a Disney classic.

Ferdinand is unique in that it is not classified as a Silly Symphony or part of any other series. Instead, it gets its own title feature and treatment, signaling that this is a special short, not one of the regular fare. I don’t have any insight as to why Walt singled this one out, but it was a good decision.

The story, in case you have not seen it before, revolves around a young bull named Ferdinand, who prefers not to run around and butt heads like the other bulls. Instead, Ferdinand prefers to sit under a tree in the meadow and sniff flowers. Unfortunately for him, when the scouts for the bullfights come to the meadow, he gets stung by a bee, and rampages through the meadow.

Ferdinand gets dragged to the bullfights as the main attraction, unaware of what awaits him. When he gets into the ring, the bullfighter confronts him, but all Ferdinand wants to do is sit and sniff the flowers that were thrown into the arena beforehand. This, of course, drives the bullfighter to distraction, and the short ends with Ferdinand being dragged back to his tree in the meadow to live out the rest of his days.

Putting aside the moral implications of the story, which was not developed by Disney, the art of this short is undeniable. The quality of animation I is easily on par with Snow White. The movements of the bulls and the backdrops are exceptionally well done, not to mention the emotion.

As I’ve been watching the Disney shorts the last year and a half, I’ve always looked for single frames or shots that I would want as a cel. The final shots of Ferdinand sitting under the tree are perhaps the most amazing shots I have ever seen. The look of sheer bliss and happiness on his face is simply amazing. Think about it – through the face of a bull that is merely pencil and ink, the Disney animators manage to convey a look of pure emotion. It’s a remarkable feat.

I also love the narration in this short. It’s a trick that Disney has used before, such as in Little Hiawatha. Here, though, the narrator does all the voices in the short, which is a nice touch. It adds to the storytelling, and allows Ferdinand to be a pure character, serving as the vehicle for emotional release for the viewer.

It’s safe to say that I loved Ferdinand the Bull. It is everything I’m looking for in a Disney short – it offers fantastic art and storytelling, plus tugs at the heartstrings in one nice, neat little eight minute package.


From Mac : As a Disney fan, I always find this cartoon kind of frustrating. It's recognized as one of the all times classics, one of Disney's absolute best and yet I don't like it. There's a lot to like about the cartoon. As usual the animation is excellent and the backgrounds and color are absolutely beautiful. It's also a story that promotes peace with no religious overtones - something I very much appreciate. However, I always find this cartoon pretty boring.

One of the main reasons I dislike this short is the narration which I find boring and unnecessary. Little Hiawatha had some narration to introduce us to the character and again at the end to lead us out of the short which worked well and added some extra light humor. In Ferdinand it's non-stop. We can see what's going on and yet we have this constant prattling telling you what every character is doing and thinking. Once the men come to choose a bull the narration becomes tiring, patronizing and dull.

There's some interesting things about this cartoon worth noting. First, as you say, this cartoon does not belong to any particular series. It is included in Merritt and Kaufman's Silly Symphony book, because it started production as part of this series, but when it was released it was a 'special'. I'm not sure if this is because Walt felt it should be singled out as something special and unique or if it had something to do with the fact that the Silly series was coming to an end (I would guess the former).


From Jeff Overturf : The narration in Ferdinand is one of Disney's first star turns in stunt casting a celebrity voice I believe. That's Don Wilson who was already garnering fame as Jack Benny's announcer on radio.

I've never been able to view the narration objectively from an animation standpoint, if only because I am such a fan of Benny and his whole cast and hearing that voice makes me just say to myself "Hey, that's Don Wilson!"


From Maryann Kirk : Unforgettable Disney Classic! I remember it so well from seeing it on "The Wonderful World of Disney" that my family faithfully watched on TV in the late 50's. Now if I could only get a copy of it! My husband has never seen it (TV deprived childhood) and I would love to show it to him!
From Daniel Famer : Here in Sweden this short has been on the air every Christmas Eve (except one, which almost caused a riot) for almost 30 years. In other words, Ferdinand has been part of my Christmas-tradition for as long as I can remember. I still think it's a wonderful story, in spite of the fact that I have seen it almost every year since the beginning and seem to know it quite well by now.
From Jerry Edwards : One of my favorite shorts. The animation style is adapted from the book illustrations of Robert Lawson. This is one of the few cartoons that I love just as much in the black and white Mickey Mouse Club version. The opening background art of the village on the mountainside is even more striking to me in black and white than it is in color. It has always irritated me that Disney decided to call this short a "Special Short" instead of a "Silly Symphony." Every scene in this short is so wonderfully done!
From Helena Sabrina Linnea Lindquist : It's my absolute favorite Walt Disney film ever. It is just so adorable and tells us to appreciate the simple things in life and avoid being who we're not. To avoid getting caught up in shallowness and 'hype'. It gives children a great sense of pride in them selves for who they are at least it did me. Hence I would love to be able to offer my future children the same chance to see this film in. It is an just an absolutely beautiful tale.
From Robs : Who couldn't LOVE Ferdinand!! This story is not only adorably told, but it makes it moral clear without being heavy handed. I love this book.
From Taylor Kerekes : I've seen this short before. It's based on the book, "The Story of Ferdinand." I bet the matador was handsome. Ferdinand sure loved to smell those flowers, didn't he? A nice short but not really one of my favorites.
From Amber : This is the cutest story in the whole world. He is the cutest little bull ever. This use to be my favorite Disney short.
From Carl Nissen : I enjoyed the story, light hearted, and shows that aspiring to the public's image of greatness is not necessarily good; to your own self be true!
From Joey Miller : I remember loving this cartoon as a child. I also remember it being featured on a mid 80's Disney program called Dtv, sort of an MTV clone, where cartoons were sliced and diced and set to different tunes, from classical to pop. This particular cartoon was set to a violin concerto, but I can't remember the name. Did anybody else see this and know what piece I'm talking about?
From Carol Whitesell : This is the first film I saw as a child, and I would love to see it again and have my grandchildren see it. I recall it as being very true to the book and its illustrations.
From Paul Merkle : Absolutely my favorite Walt Disney work of all time. I love the characterizations which seem to true to the book. The theme is timeless and true. God loves Ferdinand.
From Don II : This short was a great treat as a child. The whole family would gather to watch The Wonderful World of Disney. Ferdinand helped shape the individual I have become and will always live in my heart.
From Baruch Weiss : When I was a little guy my mom always read me the story and when I was older (around first grade age) my folks took me and my siblings to see the play. Then I saw this short and the funniest (but painful) part was when the bee stings the bull on his butt then goes around "Puffing and snorting as if he were crazy" then knocks over three bulls like bowling pins. That scene was later used in the Goofy cartoon For Whom the Bull Toils.
From Tony Shaw : It's a great story about conflict resolution and independent thought. Very good for emphasizing the desirability of rejecting peer pressure. It's a bit cow-phobic (Mother was sympathetic even for a cow.) I show it to my infant students on a lap top after reading the book to them and following that it opens up endless opportunities to discuss violence, conflict resolution, etc.
From Peter Hruschka : The book on which this film is based, THE STORY OF FERDINAND, is still in print. It has been in print continuously since its first publication in 1936. It can be read without using any electricity or fancy gadgets like DVD players; sunlight or candlelight is enough. The illustrations by Robert Lawson are marvelous. Try it !
From sherry : I grew up reading the short story. It has a dear and caring meaning. This book, I think, for kids to read it at a young age will only help to develop character and compassion.
From David Southern : I have seen the cartoon version a couple of times on TV as an adult, but my earliest recollections of Ferdinand are from the strip-film version (B&W, 39 frames), which my late father acquired in the early 1950's. As a small child, I loved Ferdinand whenever we saw him - a couple of times a year. My own children, too, have enjoyed Ferdinand on strip-film.
From Matthew Cooper : I love this short! It is just sooo cute! The animation is beautifully done too! I can't really put its moral into words though. I would really like to put an emphasis on the scenes you mentioned as being cut because I have only seen this short uncensored on my "Walt Disney Treasures: Disney Rarities" DVD so I have some interesting guessings about the censoring. Firstly, it seems to me that all the scenes with the five men would have to be cut and replaced with other footage because two of them are always smoking. Secondly, my guess on the censoring of the shadowed cart scene is that the poster it's passing is poking fun at the Spanish language (the bottom of the poster says piccadoros, hot dogos, chocolat baros) for it really seems to me that it simply cannot be that the driver is shown in blackface because it is in shadow and all shadows are black!

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