Before forming his own animation studio, Walt Disney's biggest star wasn't a mouse, but a lucky rabbit named Oswald. Back in 1927, Walt Disney and his partner Ub Iwerks were still creating animations under the Universal banner. When the pair left Universal due to creative and ownership disputes, Disney and Iwerks had to leave Oswald behind.
In absence of Oswald, the two men created our beloved Mickey Mouse and launched an empire. Today, Disney and Iwerk's earlier works are coming back to Disney animation in the form of a long-lost Oswald short titled Sleigh Bells.
87 years after its creation, the six-minute animation was discovered by a British Film Institute researcher and will finally be made available to the public. Robin Baker, the head curator from the BFI expressed the excitement of finding a virtually unseen print of Disney's earliest character:
What a joyful treat to discover a long-lost Walt Disney film in the BFI National Archive and to be able to show Sleigh Bells to a whole new audience 87 years after it was made.
The restoration of this film 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.
The president of Disney animation, Andrew Millstein also spoke out about the resurfacing of the old Oswald movie saying Disney is "thrilled to be collaborating with the BFI National Archives in the restoration of the 'lost' Oswald short."
Next month, a fully restored version of the print will be screened in London for BFI's It’s A Disney Christmas: Seasonal Shorts among other Disney shorts, ranging from the 1930s to modern day.
(Source: The Hollywood Reporter)