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FOUND: A Disney Film Missing Since 1928

Oswald the Lucky Rabbit stars in the film (Photo: Cory Doctorow/Flickr)

In 1928, Walt Disney released a short film, featuring Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, a Mickey Mouse-looking fella with a little bit of mischief to him. This was before Mickey was a star: he’d make his appearance in Steamboat Willie this same year.

But for the moment, it was all about Oswald. According to the Guardian:

The film features Oswald in an ice hockey game against a winter wonderland backdrop and has surreal touches with the rabbit at one point removing his ear to make a balloon. There’s also an elephant and a laughing donkey, who gets the puck stuck in his mouth.

But after 1928, the short film, titled Sleigh Bells, went missing and for almost 90 years it was thought to be lost entirely. But recently, as the Guardian reports, a researcher was looking through the archive of the British Film Institute, in search of lost Disney films, and he found this one. It had been in the archive for the past 34 years, after the BFI had acquired a lot of film from a company that went out of business. 

It was dated 1931, though, but a BFI spokesman pointed out there are many movies named Sleigh Bells. So no one identified it as something so special until now—the only remaining copy of this early Disney film.

Not for long, though: Disney’s animation studios are working with BFI to restore the film, and it will be show to a wider audience in London, starting this December. 

Bonus find: A missing marathoner

Every day, we highlight one newly lost or found object, curiosity or wonder. Discover something unusual or amazing? Tell us about it! Send your finds to [email protected]