A long-lost animated film containing Walt Disney’s first cartoon character has been found. UPI reports that the movie “Sleigh Bells,” a black-and-white silent film, was recovered by the British Film Institute and Walt Disney Animation Studios.
The movie features Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Walt Disney’s first cartoon character — a precursor to Mickey Mouse who bears a strong resemblance to the famous mouse.
“Oswald the Lucky Rabbit was invented by Walt Disney in 1927 and was loved for his mischievous and rebellious personality,” BFI said in announcing the find. “A number of other films do survive but ‘Sleigh Bells’ has been, until now, a lost film, unseen since its original release. The animation in the film was accomplished by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks, both of whom went on to create the character of Mickey Mouse.”
Robin Baker, Head Curator for the BFI National Archive, commented: “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.”
“Sleigh Bells” will officially premiere Dec. 12 in London. A brief clip from the movie can be seen now on the BFI website by clicking here.