Ferdinand the Bull (film)

Ferdinand the Bull is a 1938 American stand-alone animated short produced by Walt Disney Productions and released on November 25, 1938 by RKO Radio Pictures.[1] It was directed by Dick Rickard and based on the 1936 book The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf. The music was by Albert Hay Malotte, most known for his setting of The Lord's Prayer, commonly sung at weddings.

Ferdinand the Bull
Poster for Ferdinand the Bull
Theatrical release poster
Directed byDick Rickard
Produced byWalt Disney
Based onThe Story of Ferdinand
by Munro Leaf
StarringMilt Kahl
Narrated byDon Wilson
Music byAlbert Hay Malotte
Color processTechnicolor
Distributed byRKO Radio Pictures
Release date
November 25, 1938
Running time
7 minutes, 14 seconds
CountryUnited States


The scene starts with many bulls, romping together and butting their heads, however, Ferdinand is different; all he wants to do all day is go under a shady cork tree and smell the flowers. One day, his mother notices that he is not playing with the other bulls and asks him why. He responds, ‘All I want to do is to sit and smell the flowers!’ His mother is very understanding.

Ferdinand grows over the years, eventually getting to be the largest and strongest of the group. The other bulls grow up wanting to accomplish one goal in life; to be in the bullfights in Madrid, Spain, but not Ferdinand. One day, five strange-looking men show up to see the bulls. When the bulls notice them, they fight as rough as possible, hoping to get picked. Ferdinand doesn’t engage and continues to smell the flowers. When he goes to sit, he doesn’t realize there is a bumblebee right underneath him. The pain of the bee's sting makes him go on a crazy rampage, knock the other bulls out, and eventually tear down a tree. The five men cheer as they take Ferdinand to Madrid.

There is a lot of excitement when the day of the bullfight comes. On posters, they call him Ferdinand the Fierce. The event starts and out into the ring comes banderilleros, picadors and the matador who is being cheered on. As the matador bows, a woman in the audience throws him a bouquet of flowers which land in his hand. Finally, the moment comes where Ferdinand comes out and he wonders what is he doing there. The banderilleros and picadors are afraid and hide, but the matador gets scared stiff because Ferdinand is so big and strong. Ferdinand looks and sees the bouquet of flowers, walking over and scaring the matador away, but just starts smelling them. The matador becomes very angry at Ferdinand for not charging at him. But Ferdinand is not interested in fighting; he is only interested in smelling the beautiful flowers. Eventually, he is led out of the arena and taken back home where he continues to sit under the cork tree and smell the flowers.



The short film is broadcast in several countries every year on Christmas Eve as a part of the annual Disney Christmas show From All of Us to All of You. The Christmas show is especially popular in Sweden where it has aired since 1959 and has become a Christmas tradition. The replacement of Ferdinand the Bull with The Ugly Duckling in 1982 resulted in public outcry. The next year, in 1983, the change was reverted and Ferdinand the Bull returned to Swedish television.[2]

Ferdinand the Bull won the 1938 Oscar for Best Short Subject (Cartoons). It won against shorts such as the Silly Symphonies short, Mother Goose Goes Hollywood.

Home video releaseEdit

  1. Walt Disney Cartoon Classics Limited Gold Edition II: How the Best Was Won (1933–1960) (VHS) 1985
  2. Walt Disney Mini-Classics: Willie the Operatic Whale (VHS) 1991
  3. Disney Rarities: Celebrated Shorts: 1920s–1960s (DVD) 2005
  4. Walt Disney's Timeless Tales Volume 2: The Ugly Duckling/Wind in the Willows/The Country Cousin (DVD) 2005
  5. Walt Disney Animation Collection: Classic Short Films Volume 6: The Reluctant Dragon (DVD) 2009


  1. ^ Lenburg, Jeff (1999). The Encyclopedia of Animated Cartoons. Checkmark Books. p. 153. ISBN 0-8160-3831-7.
  2. ^ Stahl, Jeremy (22 December 2011). "Nordic Quack – Sweden's bizarre tradition of watching Donald Duck cartoons on Christmas Eve". Slate.

External linksEdit