Way back in 1920s and ’30s during the early days of Disney, Mickey Mouse did not exist. Instead, Disney’s mascot and leading character was Oswald the Rabbit. One of the earliest Disney animations, featuring Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, called Sleigh Bells was considered lost until recently. The animation short was discovered accidentally by someone at the British Film Institute National Archive.
Nolan Feeney from Time reported the following news about the animation’s discovery:
“Walt Disney Animation Studios has restored the six-minute silent film, Sleigh Bells, which features Mickey Mouse precursor Oswald the Lucky Rabbit and will premiere next month at the BFI in London.
The film originally entered the archives 34 years ago, collected from a film lab went out of business, but nothing about the way it was logged—including the fact that it was dated as being from 1931—suggested its historical value. “There must be a hundred things called Sleigh Bells [in the archives],” a BFI spokesman told The Guardian. While browsing the BFI’s online catalog, a researcher looking for lost Disney films made the discovery recognized the title as a possible missing short.”
Mark Brown from The Guardian reported the following:
“Andrew Millstein, president of Walt Disney Animation Studios, said the company was thrilled to be collaborating with the BFI on restoration of the short Oswald film. “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,” he said.
Sleigh Bells will get its world premiere as part of a programme, called It’s a Disney Christmas: Seasonal Shorts, on 12 December.”
If you want to see the Disney Christmas special, you need to make it to the BFI South Bank Theatre in London, England. Here is the link if you wish to research it or buy tickets.
Here is a short sample Youtube clip from the 1928 film Sleigh Bells .