Sleigh Bells ringing for Oswald the Lucky Rabbit

Early Disney character to reappear after 87 years

Ever heard of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit? Nope, us neither. That is until a print from a lost film starring the aforementioned bunny was recently discovered 87 years on.

The animated Disney short in question, Sleigh Bells, was thought to have disappeared altogether, as had Oswald himself after the arrival of a certain mouse in 1928.

When Mickey burst on to the scene barely a year after Oswald had come into existence, it all but spelt the end for the lop-eared one. Walt Disney, and his then partner-in-crime Ub Iwerks, had high hopes for the character, but after a spat with the bosses at Universal they were forced to seek pastures new and leave Oswald behind.

But when a researcher at the British Film Institute accidentally stumbled upon Sleigh Bells, his fortunes were about to change – albeit a few years down the line. A fully-restored version of the six-minute gem is now due to be shown in London as part of a Christmas show that will incorporate a host of Disney shorts spanning from 1927 onwards.

Although there are other films in existence that feature Oswald, this is a genuinely exciting discovery, not to mention a real feather in the cap for the BFI. Head Curator Robin Baker said: “What a joyful treat to discover a long-lost 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.”

Disney have, of course, given the whole thing a makeover as only they know how, and so a new preservation master print and digital copies have been made. President Andrew Millstein said that the studios were “thrilled to be collaborating with the BFI National Archives in the restoration of the ‘lost’ Oswald short”.

The world was a very different place when Sleigh Bells last saw the light of day back in 1927, but everyone’s sure to enjoy catching up.

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