Ferdinand & the King of Happiness (2)

The Story of Ferdinand  also has a remarkable cinematic history: This post revisits the short animated film adapted by Walt Disney 1938 and reveals its craftmanship in showing olfactory practices.

The Story of Ferdinand is a much acclaimed classic children book written by American author Munro Leaf and illustrated by Robert Lawson. The book is available Moreover, it has a remarkable cinematic history: The short animated film entitled Ferdinand the Bull in 1938 adapted by Walt Disney even won an Academy Award. In 2017, a 3D feature-length computer-animated film adaptation, titled Ferdinand, was released. Ferdinand was nominated for Best Animated Film in the Academy Awards.


Showing smelling

Disney’s classic animated film adaptation adds a visual dimension to the plot and also varies the theme of olfaction.  Enjoy the short video:

In fact, what is striking about the animation is the richness and diversity of the visual design. The film even develops an escalating visual story the nicely corresponds to the different episodes and micro-scenes of the plot:

When Ferdinand sits in the middle of the bull ring and fails to take heed of any of the provocations of the matador and others to fight the animation is truly at its best: No trick can lure the bull out of the calming pleasures of the sense of smell. “Smelling quietly”, the narrator notes in conclusion, “he is very happy”.

The above selection of screenshots shows how nuanced a smelling bull can be portrayed:

  • The bull shows a happy face when smelling.
  • A flower grows and moves towards the bull.
  • Discovering the daisy tatoo on the chest of the matador triggers the bull’s passion for flower scents.
  • The bull’s body language.

This abundance of “micro-scenes” is amazing!

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It particularly stands out if you compare it with the rather stereotyped and highly standardized visualizations we know from stock photography and other media used to visualize smelling practices these days.

Ferdinand as a source for inspiration for visual design

Finally, this animated film provides and inspiring case study for any visual designer who wants to convey olfactory phenomena!

Ferdinand &

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Image source: Screenshot youtube.