American animation, 106 minutes
'The story of Ferdinand' by Munro Leaf (written in 1936) was surely the favourite bedtime book of many kids through generations.

Introverted children could find relief in the tale of the 'renegade' bull, who didn't want to fight with the others and preferred sniffing flowers peacefully. Others could enjoy the simple and meditative story, which didn't lack some quiet humour either. Director Carlos Saldanha and his team thought that the script would need some spicing up as they wanted to make an up-to-date animation, and they were right. Fortunately they did it with a good sense of proportion, so the movie managed to preserve the values of the book, but it also made Ferdinand much less antisocial which was a nice move. Besides the original message which was about staying true to ourselves no matter what, the film also emphasizes the power of community and togetherness.

We first meet Ferdinand as a cute little calf, excluded by the others because of his peculiar, peaceful nature. His incapability to connect with the others and take part in their violent games forms a barrier between Ferdinand and the other bulls. After a tragic event he escapes the ranch and finds shelter at the flower farm of Juan and his daughter Nina. It is the perfect place for Ferdinand as he has a passion for flowers, and finally he can be part of a loving family. He grows up and becomes a huge, strong bull, but his nature remains as sweet as ever. This could be his happy ending, but unfortunately one day when visiting the flower festival in Madrid, he gets stung by a bee. Of course the sudden pain makes him quite wild so he gets 'arrested' and he is carried back to the bull ranch, where a famous matador soon arrives to pick an animal for his last fight. At first Ferdinand feels completely lost but he soon finds a friend: Lupe, the crazy calming goat, who is treated with contempt by everybody else. The other bulls make it clear to Ferdinand: the ranch is not a flower farm, life is harsh and cruel here. You either fight, or you go to the 'chophouse'. The 'flower bull' must find his place among the others and teach them a lesson of compassion and solidarity, while he also learns that he can't remain always passive: sometimes he must stand up and fight for the values he believes in.

'Ferdinand' is a moving and sweet film, perhaps lacking that adult-friendly entertainment we love so much at Pixar Studios for example, but still it's a film you can't help loving and sharing with others. Besides teaching the children really useful morals, it also has great fun moments and characters, for example Lupe the calming goat, not to mention Una, Dos and Cuatro, the naughty hedgehogs. (Don't ask what happened to Tres.) A must-have on every kid's bookshelf, it is also available on DVD and Blue-Ray in mediatheques, libraries and bookstores.