Long-lost 'Oswald the Lucky Rabbit' Disney animation discovered in BFI archives

Lost Disney Cartoon of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit Discovered
Lost Disney Cartoon of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit Discovered

Before the mouse, there was a rabbit.

Oswald the Lucky Rabbit was created in 1927 by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks, a precursor to the anthropomorphic rodent that would make Disney famous.

A long lost animation featuring the the black and white bunny was recently rediscovered at the British Film Institute's National Archives by a researcher. Sleigh Bells, which originally premiered in 1927, runs roughly six minutes long and features Ortensia the cat, Oswald's inter-species wife.

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Following a contractual disagreement with Universal, Disney and Iwerks went on to create Mickey Mouse. Universal retained the rights to Oswald for nearly 80 years, when, in 2006, Disney acquired the intellectual property rights and the Disney-produced Oswald films back from the film studio.

The BFI National Archive was founded in 1935 and has grown to become the one of the largest and most important collections of film and television in the world with over 180,000 films and 750,000 television programs.

"We're thrilled to be collaborating with the BFI National Archives in the restoration of the 'lost' Oswald short, " said Andrew Millstein, President of Walt Disney Animation Studios. "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 world premiere of the new restoration of Sleigh Bells will be hosted by Walt Disney Animation Studios and will take place at BFI Southbank on 12 Dec.

It will be screened as part of the BFI program It's A Disney Christmas: Seasonal Shorts, which will feature festive Disney gems from the 1930's to the present day.

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