The BFI National Archive and Walt Disney Animation Studios have announced the rediscovery of a Walt Disney film that was thought to be long lost now found in the BFI National Archive.
Sleigh Bells, a six-minute short made in 1928 by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks, features the first Disney character, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.
Sleigh Bells has now been restored by Walt Disney Animation Studios and the film will be unveiled at BFI Southbank on Dec 12 as part of the programme It’s A Disney Christmas: Seasonal Shorts.
Sleigh Bells had been assumed lost and unseen since its original release. The print found by a researcher browsing the online catalogue of the BFI National Archive’s holdings. Walt Disney Animation Studios have taken this print and created both a new preservation print and digital copies.
Robin Baker, Head Curator, 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. We thank Walt Disney for working with us and are thrilled to present the world premiere of this restored version here in London at BFI Southbank.”
Andrew Millstein, President of Walt Disney Animation Studios, which oversaw the restoration, 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. We are grateful to Katrina Stokes, Robin Baker, and their associates at the BFI for helping us locate and preserve Sleigh Bells.”
The It’s A Disney Christmas programme also includes five other festive Disney shorts from the 1930s to today: Mickey’s Good Deed (1932), Night Before Christmas (1933), The Art of Skiing (1941), Pluto’s Christmas Tree (1952), Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983), Prep and Landing: Operation Secret Santa (2010) and Frozen Fever (2015).