10 things to know about ‘Ferdinand,’ the road movie about a gentle bull
Fox and Blue Sky Studios’ Ferdinand is an animated film about a giant bull who detests the one thing expected from him: bullfighting. There are quite a few interesting tidbits about the film, and here are some of them:
1. It is based on a controversial children’s book.
The animated feature is based on The Story of Ferdinand, a children’s book written by American author Munro Leaf and illustrated by Robert Lawson, published in 1936.
The said book was banned in Spain and burned as propaganda in Germany because Ferdinand’s character was considered as a pacifist symbol.
Nevertheless, has had over 60 translations. It was also adapted into a film which won an Academy Award in 1938.
2. Ferdinand boasts of an eclectic yet talented voice cast, but the members of the cast weren’t necessarily selected based on their popularity or credentials. Each actor was chosen based on how his or her vocal qualities complemented the appearance and personality of the characters.
Producer Lori Forte explains, “When we cast our films, we often don’t know who is providing the voices we are hearing.”
“Our talent executive sends us a lot of voices, so we look at the designs of the characters and the maquettes [prototype sculptures] and figure out which voice fits the character best. I think we really hit a home run with this movie.”
The cast includes John Cena (Ferdianand), Kate McKinnon (Lupe), David Tennant (Angus), Gina Rodriguez (Una), Peyton Manning (Guapo), Bobby Cannavale (Valiente), Anthony Anderson (Bones), Jerrod Carmichael (Paco), Flula Borg (Hans), Daveed Diggs (Dos), Raúl Esparza (Moreno), Sally Phillips (Greta), Boris Kodjoe (Klaus), and Gabriel Iglesias (Cuatro).
3. John Cena’s portrayal of the film’s central character is truer-to-life than you think.
The WWE superstar said: “Ferdinand is a very big, strong, kind-hearted and happy bull who finds himself in an arena of people where he needs to fight for his life.”
“The audience finally sees his approach to life and appreciates that and rewards him for it. That’s my life, so that’s me! I am Ferdinand!”
4. Kate McKinnon’s comedic timing is impeccable, even if you can only hear her voice in the film.
McKinnon voices Lupe, the goat who becomes Ferdinand’s trainer and BFF. The 34-year-old actress is best known as a regular on Saturday Night Live, and for her crazy impressions of famous personalities like Ellen DeGeneres, Justin Bieber, and Hilary Clinton.
McKinnon’s take on the underappreciated goat who finds her life purpose is both hilarious and endearing – much like her live-action performances.
5. Ferdinand is directed by Carlos Saldanha – the same man behind Rio and most of the Ice Age films.
With Saldanha at the helm, you can expect the same brand of wit and humor that you’ve experienced with Ice Age, and the festive mood in Rio, but in a completely different tale of told through a new cast of fascinating creatures.
6. Ferdinand is set in Spain, and the film is an exploration of the beautiful and famous spots in the country’s landscape.
More than just saying that the film is set in Spain, Ferdinand takes you on a ride across the country – to the mountain-top city of Ronda in Spain’s Malaga province, which inspired the farm where Ferdinand lives; to Madrid’s Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas; and to the windmills of La Mancha.
7. Saldanha and his team personally visited Spain to find inspiration for the visuals in Ferdinand.
They went to Madrid, Seville, and Ronda, among other places. They saw the differences between the countryside and the cityscape, and saw a a mix of the old and the new.
Sadanha says of the trip, “We visited the haciendas where they raise the cattle and took in every little detail, the vegetation, the small villages and the people. We also saw the windmills of La Mancha and the famous Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas in Madrid. All these locations help us create an authentic world for our characters.”
8. Ferdinand paints a lovely portrait of Spanish life and culture.
From the man who runs Casa del Toro and the family that took Ferdinand in, to the many strangers Ferdinand encounters at the flower festival and the places and situations he finds himself in; the film is a beautiful, earth-toned image of Spain and its rich culture.
9. Ferdinand provides a substantial glimpse of bullfighting, which is now a very controversial topic.
Fighting bulls on foot in Spain dates back to the 1700s, and bullfighting, for a long time, has generally been regarded as a noble tradition.
Over the years, however, animal rights activists and animal welfare advocates have opposed this practice. Bullfighting has been banned in many countries, as well as Spanish Autonomous Communities such as Catalonia.
Ferdinand goes into the small details, such as the selection process of matadors for the bulls that they wish to fight; what happens to bulls that are chosen and what happens to those that aren’t; the pride and grandeur a bullfighter finds in the sport; and how passionate the Spanish audience can be over this cultural practice.
10. The animated film tells us that not all bulls are created equal; in the same way that humans aren’t, either.
In most TV shows and movies, bulls are depicted as strong, ruthless, and fearless creatures. Ferdinand shows that while there truly are huge and fearsome alpha bulls, there are also ones that are unusually small and scrawny, and less suited for bull fighting.
It appears that we are all created differently, human, bull, or otherwise; sometimes we just need to embrace it. This is only one of the many lessons on human compassion that we will find in Ferdinand.
Ferdinand is now showing in cinemas nationwide. – Rappler.com