FUNNY ANIMALS AND MORE
September 6, 2015 posted by

Argentine Animated Features. Part 3: 1981-1995

Continuing my survey of Argentine animated feature films, today with films by Carlos Marquez and Manuel García Ferré.


Mafalda, directed by Carlos D. Marquez. 82 minutes. December 3, 1982.

mafalda-movieMafalda was an Argentine comic strip by Quino (Joaquín Salvador Lavado) published from 1964 to 1973. It was extremely popular throughout Latin America, and in Europe and Quebec and several Asian countries — as usual with international cartoons, everywhere but America. The newspaper strips were reprinted in books, and there was an Argentine 1991 postage stamp. There were two Mafalda animated versions; this one and a 1993 Cuban TV series. Mafalda was compared at the time with, and was admittedly inspired by, Blondie and Peanuts.

Mafalda is a 6-year-old middle-class Argentine girl who is innocently concerned with world peace and everybody being friends. The comic strip also featured her family and, added gradually, many schoolmates, young friends, and neighbors; each of whom had distinct personalities and slowly grew older. The newspaper strip became an intellectual favorite; so much that for several years after Quino stopped drawing it in 1973 (he moved to Milan, Italy to escape Argentina’s then-military government’s censorship), he was still being asked by UNICEF and human rights groups to draw Mafalda for their posters. Today there are Mafalda streets and parks throughout the world (except in America); the Mafalda books are still in print (except in America); and Quino, now in his 80s, is getting international awards (admittedly for more than just his Mafalda comic strip, although he is still asked to draw the character).

The Mafalda movie makes about as much sense as a similar Peanuts movie; little kids innocently saying deep things.


Ico, el Caballito Valiente (Ico, the Brave Pony), directed by Manuel García Ferré. 88 minutes. July 9, 1987.

Ico, el Caballito Valiente (“Caballito” could be either Pony, Little Horse, or Colt) was produced in 1983, and was shown at the Festival Internacional de Cinema para a Infância e Juventude in Portugal in March 1983, and the Moscow International Film Festival in July 1983; but was not generally released in Argentina until July 9, 1987. García Ferré’s problems taking four years to get theatrical distribution discouraged him from making any more features until 2000. (He had enough TV animation between 1983 and 2000 to stay busy.)

ico_caballitoIco is a wild colt who lives with his mother with other forest animals, including Jaba the boar whom he helps to escape from the cruel Black Duke’s hunts. One day he sees a royal parade, and decides that he wants to be a noble horse like the king’s charger. Ico, with the help of Larguirucho, the friendly castle stablemaster (with his horse, Jacinto), sneaks into the royal castle (after several attempts) where he meets and becomes friends with Preciosa, the daughter of the king’s charger, and the other stable horses. Grandpa Mateo, the oldest horse, tells him the mystery of the phantom bell tolling that frightens all the animals in the castle. The Black Duke, the king’s chief equerry, pretends to train Ico to become a royal steed, but orders his henchmen to make the training impossibly hard to discourage him. Ico learns in a lengthy flashback of the history of the bell tolling. An ancient vain king conquered all the neighboring realms and stole their gold. A troubadour convinced him to melt all the gold and cast a giant bell, whose tolling would remind everyone of his power. The giant golden bell was so huge that its tolling shattered its tower supports, sending it crashing deep underground and killing its tyrant; so the bell could not be ringing today. When the castle’s horses start to disappear, Ico and Preciosa set out to solve the mystery. They learn that the Black Duke and his henchmen have dug up the golden bell, and are stealing the horses to lift huge stones to break up the bell for its gold. The tolling is caused by the stones smashing into the bell. Ico is captured, but Preciosa rallies the forest animals to rescue him. Larguirucho becomes the new Black Duke, and Ico is accepted to become the royal charger’s heir; but he decides at the last moment that he would rather remain a carefree wild horse. Preciosa joins him.


El Escudo del Cóndor (Shield of the Condor), directed by Luis Palomares. 72 minutes. April 20, 1989.

Nobody seems to have uploaded this, and there is almost no information about it. According to Historical Dictionary of South American Cinema by Peter H. Rist (Rowman & Littlefield, May 2014), it’s “a tale of a circus boy and a lion tamer who use a magic sword to fight alien robots.” Cinenacional.com says (my translation), “A little circus boy, joined by a lion tamer, travel to an unknown planet. There, protected by a powerful shield, they fight robots.” It is also included in a list of stop-motion films.


This column is unusually short, but the history of Argentine animated features breaks here before Dibu: El Película and Dibu 2: La Venganza de Nasty in 1997 and 1998, and Dibu 3: La Gran Aventura in 2002. They were produced by the Patagonik Film Group of Buenos Aires, which was founded in 1996 and is the largest cinematic producer in Latin America, for both theaters and television. Patagonik has produced over a dozen animated theatrical features to date, and even more live-action features of all types. Probably its best-known animated feature in America is the 2007 El Arca, a.k.a. El Arca de Noé, released in English as Noah’s Ark on DVD by The Shout! Factory in 2014. Next week we’ll dive into both Patagonik’s first animated theatrical features, and the other animated features that were coming out at the same time.

Related to this was the appearance in Argentine cinemas of a flood of American animation, beginning with Disney’s The Lion King in 1994. That and Disney’s subsequent features, plus Pixar’s, DreamWorks’, and Blue Sky’s over the next decade, established in Argentina that Animation Was Not Just for Kids! Patagonik was not alone in being inspired to create animation for families rather than just children. (Witness some of the adult humor in El Arca, which has brought outraged screams in America from parents and grandparents expecting just another animated Bible stories DVD for children.)

Next week: Argentine Animated Features, Part 4: 1996-2000; the Patagonik Film Group Appears

8 Comments

  • I can talk about the three movies mentioned here.

    MAFALDA LA PELICULA, frankly, makes no sense. I’m actually surprised that the information I’m about to provide was not featured, although Quino’s work is far more important and it is regrettably that he had to retire due to vision problems after realizing that he was repeating himself. This movie it is actually a 1974 production that aired on television on LS84 TV Canal 11. But it had a difficult production (Quino openly dislikes it) and the work of the voice actors (among them Susana Sisto and Cecilia Baamonde Gispert) does not fully match the characters. The film was built pasting together a big number of Quino’s strip and that is big flaw. But the results were not good and the film was cut into brief shorts that aired on television (in black and white), which I did see at the time, even though I was 3 years old then! When Aries Cinematográfica Argentina released the original version of the film in 1982 I went to see it to a movie theater: I immediately recognized the images (in color), the music and the sounds.

    ICO had began its production in 1979 and it should have been completed the following year. However, there were unexpected issues that complicated everything. García Ferré’s wife and top collaborator, Inés Geldestein died when they were preparing the film. Also, his producer and publisher partner, Julio Korn also died and the publishing company endured a series of changes ending with Don Manuel eventually becoming a publisher himself. The film is listed as being a 1983 production (although I was completed earlier) because of those festival exhibitions although several scenes actually aired that same year in Argentine television in the final show that his company ever produced. What were the problems that delayed its release, I don’t know (maybe to secure dates during the winter holidays)… but the company did reissue MIL INTENTOS Y UN INVENTO (which is NOT really a children story… its story is that you can work, you can make money… but you should not be greedy because in the end, you’ll end up alone and alienated from the people that loves you) in 1985. “He had enough TV animation between 1983 and 2000 to stay busy”… except for a few commercials for his own magazines, he only produced in 1985 a series of brief shorts (Sabermás de Calculín). There was a short promoting movie attendances (seen in theaters only) and one in 1986 about paying taxes that can be found in YouTube.

    EL ESCUDO DEL CONDOR is a rarity and I had located this page when I was asked about it: http://www.jorgefilippis.8m.com/producciones.html I haven’t seen this film but I remember seeing ads on television. Voices were provided by actor Manuel Callau and announcer Ricardo Martínez Puente (El Tero), who made a big number of commercials for radio and television. Both are still working and Martínez Puente is somehow related now to Disney, doing work for ESPN in Buenos Aires.

    • Upon reading your comment on MAFALDA LA PELICULA:
      It sounds like they didn’t really know how to pace this or to go further from simply adapting the strips. The way it worked for Peanuts for example (take the first movie), the strips were merely tied adequately to a theme, but also there was the overall plot that made sense linearly that I guess the Mafalda movie missed the point on.

      Interesting to see how tied up Ferre was on getting Ico out at all, so much bad luck it seems.

  • Mafalda was an Argentine comic strip by Quino (Joaquín Salvador Lavado) published from 1964 to 1973. It was extremely popular throughout Latin America, and in Europe and Quebec and several Asian countries — as usual with international cartoons, everywhere but America.

    The only way I knew of Mafalda at all was seeing a select number of strips reprinted in a textbook I had in high school Spanish class.

    Mafalda was compared at the time with, and was admittedly inspired by, Blondie and Peanuts.

    Although she reminded me of Nancy with her hair.

    Today there are Mafalda streets and parks throughout the world (except in America); the Mafalda books are still in print (except in America); and Quino, now in his 80s, is getting international awards (admittedly for more than just his Mafalda comic strip, although he is still asked to draw the character).

    And yet America gets NOTHING!

    The way Ferre liked to use Larguirucho and other characters in these films remind me of Osamu Tezuka’s “Star System” of characters he used over and over like Shunsaku Ban, Hamegg, Acetylene Lamp or Rock.

    (Witness some of the adult humor in El Arca, which has brought outraged screams in America from parents and grandparents expecting just another animated Bible stories DVD for children.)

    We needed that!

    • When I was still living in Argentina I had a big number of Quino books from Ediciones de la Flor (compiling the majority of what was published in newspapers and magazines). When I moved to the United States, I managed to get all of the published books although some were in the Editorial Lumen versions, from Spain (they are exactly the same, with only minor changes to the covers) and one from Mexico that I didn’t seen published by Ediciones de la Flor. The problem with Quino is that is quite difficult to translate his work to English, although there have been a few attempts.

      The problems that García Ferré had producing his films were quite problematic, specially due to changes in the television industry from which he managed to finance his work beyond the State subsidies to the film industry. The problems that he faced in the final films, which will show in the next two articles, were quite frustrating specially with the collapse of the Anteojito magazine, which was quite sad. That was a very intelligent magazine, thought following the elementary school curricula and it was a very effective complement to what you had to study. It worked for me since my parents bought it when I was in school but to do a similar magazine here is almost impossible: the school curricula was national and here were had a different one from State to State.

    • No, the final Garcia Ferré features won’t be until five or six more columns from now.

  • Mafalda was published in The Advertiser newspaper here in Adelaide,Australia back in the early 70s. Afaik,the animated movie has never been released here.

    • You don’t miss much with the animated Mafalda movie. In its original form, as seen in 1974, made more sense by far.

  • Animozione, we are specialized in creative 3D design and animations, visual effects, post-production, Whiteboard Videos, Kinetic or Lyric videos, 2D animation, Graphic design, Medical Animation, Simple Image animation, Motion Graphics, Info-graphics animation. We are a company totally committed to Quality and Innovation. We analyze and summarize whatever the content, and then we mix it up with brain storming ideas to create a final result which reveals the message of your company and products.
    Visit: http://animozione.in/
    https://vimeo.com/138856916

Leave a Reply to Chris Sobieniak Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.