Art And Culture

Disney Film Lost For 87 Years Rediscovered

Disney Film Lost For 87 Years RediscoveredDisney Film Lost For 87 Years Rediscovered

Before Mickey Mouse, there was Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.

The first ever animated Disney character is set to be a star again as one of his films has been rediscovered 87 years after it was made.

Sleigh Bells, a six-minute animation, was found by a researcher browsing the online database of the British Film Institute’s archive.

The “exciting discovery” is thought to be the sole surviving print for the 1928 film, according to the BFI, reports

“A number of other (Oswald) films do survive but Sleigh Bells has been, until now, a lost film, unseen since its original release,” the BFI said.

Walt Disney Animation Studios used the print to make a new master print, and digital copies of Sleigh Bells.

A fully restored version will be shown next month in London as part of a Christmas program including other Disney shorts from the 1930s to the present day.

Walt Disney and his long-time collaborator Ub Iwerks first drew the animations for Oswald in 1927 for Universal Studios.

He was widely loved for his “mischievous and rebellious personality”, the BFI said.

But he was soon usurped by Mickey, now Disney’s most famous personality.

Disney and Iwerks were forced to abandon Oswald when they left Universal after a dispute with the studio.

They invented Mickey in 1928 and his long-eared precursor eventually fell into obscurity.

Robin Baker, head curator at the BFI National Archive, said: “What a joyful treat to discover a long-lost Walt Disney film and to be able to show Sleigh Bells to a whole new audience 87 years after it was made.

“Its restoration will introduce many audiences to Disney’s work in the silent period - it clearly demonstrates the vitality and imagination of his animation at a key point in his early career.”

Andrew Millstein, president of the Disney animation studios, said the company was “thrilled to be collaborating with the national archives in the restoration of the ‘lost’ Oswald short”.