Oswald was drawn up by Walt Disney and Ub Iwers in 1927 and is marked for his “mischievous and rebellious personality,” a definite departure from the character we would all come to love as Mickey Mouse. It wasn’t until a few years later that both Disney and Iwers broke away from Universal Studios, for whom they had developed Oswald films, that they dreamt up the character of Mickey Mouse.
The six-minute “Sleigh Bells” was preserved in the collections of the BFI National Archive. The re-discovery was recently made by a researcher who stumbled upon the forgotten piece of history while browsing the BFI National Archive’s holdings. As a result, Walt Disney Animation Studios’ attention turned towards taking surviving film prints and reviving them in active cinemas, as well as preserving new print and digital copies.
“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,” said Robin Baker, Head Curator for the BFI National Archive. “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.”