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British film archive prepares "long lost" Disney rabbit for Christmas

British film archive prepares "long lost" Disney rabbit for Christmas
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Film archivists at London have rediscovered a long-lost Walt Disney animation from 1928.

“Sleigh Bells” features Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, a character thought to be a prototype for Mickey Mouse.

The six-minute film will be shown in early December at the British Film Institute (BFI) as part of a programme including other Disney shorts from the 1930s to the present day.

A researcher discovered a print of “Sleigh Bells” in the BFI National Archive while browsing an online catalogue of its holdings. Walt Disney Animation Studios used what is thought to be the sole surviving print to make a new preservation masterprint and digital copies.

In a statement the BFI said: “Oswald the Lucky Rabbit was loved for his mischievous and rebellious personality. A number of other films do survive but “Sleigh Bells” has been, until now, a lost film, unseen since its original release.”

Walt Disney and his colleague Ub Iwerks drew the animations for the Oswald character, and later went on to create Mickey Mouse following a contractual disagreement with Universal, for whom they had created the Oswald films, the statement added.