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Western Animation / Ferdinand the Bull

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Oh, there's nothing to be afraid of. He's not like the other ones.
Ferdinand the Bull is a 1938 animated short film (8 minutes) directed by Dick Rickard, produced by Walt Disney as one of the Silly Symphonies.

A bull named Ferdinand is a gentle soul. While all the other bulls like to butt heads and fight, Ferdinand wants only to sit and smell the flowers. The great ambition of most of the bulls is to compete in the bullfighting ring in Madrid, but not Ferdinand. However, when the bullfighting scouts come to inspect the bulls, Ferdinand gets stung by a bee. The rampage he goes on leads the scouts to believe he is prime bullfighting material, and they take him to the ring, marketing him as "Ferdinand the Fierce". But he remains a gentle soul.

Based on a children's book called The Story of Ferdinand. Nearly 80 years after this short, the book was again adapted into an animated feature called Ferdinand, by a company that would coincidentally be purchased by Disney shortly afterwards.


  • Ambiguously Gay: Despite his big muscles, Ferdinand doesn't want to conform to gender stereotypes by playing sports with the other boys; he would rather sniff the flowers while batting his long eyelashes. It's probably not surprising that he's seen by some as a gay icon.
  • Beastly Bloodsports: Bullfighting. Although since this is a children's cartoon, Ferdinand doesn't get killed as would happen in Real Life.note 
  • Bee Afraid: Ferdinand's terror of a bee is what gets him incorrectly tabbed as a prime candidate for bullfighting.
  • Blowing a Raspberry: A blink-and-you'll-miss-it part. When the crowd shows dismay and anger at Ferdinand for smelling the flowers, one of the horses can be seen sticking his tongue out at him. The matador also blows a raspberry at Ferdinand when trying to taunt him to fight.
  • Brutish Bulls: Ferdinand himself represents a humorous and deliberate inversion; by his kind's standards, he grows into an enormous adult with large, powerful haunches, is black as pitch and has an impressive pair of horns. However, he is a completely gentle soul that would never hurt a fly.
  • Continuity Cameo: Yep, that's Snow White attending the bullfight.
  • Creator Cameo: Walt Disney himself provides the voice of Ferdinand's mom. Milt Kahl voices Ferdinand as a calf. Walt is also caricatured as the matador.
  • Face Palm: The matador does this when Ferdinand smells the flower instead of fighting.
  • Medium Awareness: Ferdinand's mom frowns when the narrator calls her a cow.
  • Narrator: Don Wilson from The Jack Benny Program. Reads the text of The Story of Ferdinand mostly unchanged.
  • Open Shirt Taunt: The matador wants Ferdinand to fight him, and opens his shirt to dare him to gore him. Then Ferdinand sees the flower tattoo on the matador's chest and licks it.
  • Storybook Opening: Not in the original short, but added when this cartoon was aired in the 1950s on Walt Disney Presents.
  • Toros y Flamenco: Typical Hollywood portrait of Iberia, centered on bullfighting.