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'Lost' Oswald bunny hops back in Disney cartoon restoration

Published 04/11/2015

Oswald was created by Walt Disney and Ub Iwekrs in 1927 before the pair went on to create Mickey Mouse, pictured
Oswald was created by Walt Disney and Ub Iwekrs in 1927 before the pair went on to create Mickey Mouse, pictured

A "lost" film featuring Disney's first animated character, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, has been unearthed in a British archive and will be shown for the first time in 87 years.

A print of the cartoon, called Sleigh Bells and produced in 1928, was rediscovered by a researcher browsing the BFI National Archive's online catalogue.

Walt Disney Animation Studios has restored the cartoon, which is around six minutes long, and it will have a world premiere next month.

Oswald was created by Walt Disney and Ub Iwekrs in 1927 for Universal before the pair went on to create Mickey Mouse following a contract dispute with the film company.

The BFI said while other Oswald cartoons survived, Sleigh Bells had been feared lost and had not been seen since its original release.

Robin Baker, head curator at BFI National Archive, said: "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."

Andrew Millstein, president of Walt Disney Animation Studios, added: "We're thrilled to be collaborating with the BFI National Archives in the restoration of the 'lost' Oswald short, Sleigh Bells, and to be sharing this delightful animated discovery with audiences in the UK as part of this special Disney holiday programme.

"The Oswald shorts are an important part of our studios' history, and we have been working with film archives and private collectors all around the world to research the missing titles."

The premiere of the cartoon will take place on December 12 at BFI Southbank in London as part of a screening of festive Disney shorts.

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