Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, the Disney character created for cartoon by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks will premiere at the BFI in London next month – 87 years after its loss in 1928, according to a BBC report.
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Titled “Sleigh Bells,” the recently discovered cartoon only lasts six minutes, and is silent with no audio because audio technology was in its infancy during the period the film was invented by Walt Disney for Universal in 1927.
Disney went on to create the Mickey Mouse character after the loss of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, and Mickey Mouse owes much of its character from that of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.
Other films of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit are in possession, but only the Sleigh Bells film was lost and never seen again after its original release until now.
A researcher happened upon Sleigh Bells were scrutinizing Disney’s online catalogue, but it is now preserved as the only surviving print of the film by BFI National Archive. Professional restoration work was done on the surviving print by Walt Disney Animation Studios, and it will be screened on December 12 at BFI Southbank as part of Disney Christmas shorts program.
"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," said Robin Baker, head curator at the BFI National Archive.
"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," Baker added.
President of Walt Disney Animation Studios, Andrew Millstein, supervised the restoration work done on the Sleigh Bells film, and noted that "We have been working with film archives and private collectors all around the world to research the missing titles."
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Millstein disclosed that Sleigh Bells is a crucial part of Disney history and must be regarded as such.