featured essay

Kevin Lau


 Have You Heard of Our Lord and Savior Ferdinand Christ?

Let us get something straight: Ferdinand is not a good movie, balancing on the thin line between bad and terrible. The first act is about an hour long, the second act roughly 15 minutes, and the third act about 20-25 minutes. Plus, overall, the movie didn’t know what it wanted to do. That being said, it is time to have an intellectual analysis of Ferdinand. My thesis? Our protagonist, Ferdinand, is essentially bull Jesus (but more kid-friendly with a happier ending than someone being nailed on a cross for saying that it wouldn’t be so bad if people tried to be nice to each other).

Ferdinand, voiced by the invisible John Cena, is a bull with lots of natural muscle but is also a pacifist. He even has a Save the Cat moment (coined by screenwriter Blake Snyder) where he literally saves a bunny rabbit from being trampled by one of his fellow bulls to invoke a sense of compassion and sympathy for him from the audience. He’s a protagonist that promotes peace and stands up for the little guys when everyone around him promotes violence like it’s the new Mountain Dew flavor. He even gets a small following of people who support him and his ideals.

Sound familiar?

Ferdinand is also portrayed as the wisest character in the whole film. Everything he knows about how the world works and how to treat other people were either stuff that he taught himself or is just naturally ingrained within his personality (so kind of like Jesus, but a bit of a Mary Sue). Ferdinand didn’t really have a father figure because his dad left when he was young and his human dad is one of the most pointless characters in the whole movie. He is his own mentor on his quest for peace and forges his own path to promote it.

Kind of. The actual plot of the movie would be very different if it went by character motivations instead of plot. For instance, when Ferdinand is taken away from the home he loves to farm that trains bulls for fights, he tries to make friends and promote peace instead of trying to escape back home. But hey, if we went by what makes sense in emotional continuity, then we wouldn’t have such invigorating conflict such as a 3-minute dance battle and animals driving cars similar to what we got from Finding Dory a year-and-a-half prior, right? That was my favorite part of the gospel of Christ, right smack in the middle of the book of Matthew (gotta keep this thesis alive).

So the gang that Ferdinand is roped into is competing each against each other to win the favor of a matador, not knowing that the purpose of a bullfighter is to kill bulls (this is executed as a huge twist). Once Ferdinand discovers this, he must save his disciples, including the one who denied him a wee bit more than three times. However, all roads come to an end when Ferdinand surrenders himself to get captured so that his friends can escape the sinful world of bullfighting safely.

Ferdinand is then faced with his crucifixion: a fight in an arena against a renowned bullfighter. A crowd is watching, begging for violence and entertainment and entertaining violence. Ferdinand dodges the attacks of the matador, and then turns the tables when he accidentally gets a hold of the matador’s red blanket, turning this into a reverse bullfight. Eventually, the matador outsmarts Ferdinand and readies his sword to end the fight, then Ferdinand sits and accepts his fate without further resistance. This is much like when Jesus accepts his fate at the cross, knowing it is for the greater good.

It is this movement of peace that entices the audience to root for the big bull. Everyone cheers for Ferdinand and boos the matador for even thinking about trying to kill him. You know, the opposite of what happened to Jesus and even the opposite reason people go see bullfights.

Did I mention that this movie just doesn’t make much sense?

So the matador, the star of the bullfight, is booed out of the arena and Ferdinand is praised once more for doing absolutely nothing. It is not the fact that he did nothing, though, but that he stands for peace, generating the message of how just because someone is big and supposedly powerful does not mean that they want to participate in violence. (“Never judge a bull by its cover.” John Cena, 2017)

Ferdinand then becomes an icon of peace for bulls everywhere. He shows the world that you do not have to fight, that you can be caring and kind to one another and life will find a way to make sure that the murderous bad guy won’t lay a finger on you, no matter how bloodthirsty he is. When life points a sword at your face, just sit down and take it for the greater good of all. This is the gospel of Ferdinand.

What a load of bull.

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  APRIL. 1ST. 2020.




                            SPOILERS AHEAD