The sole copy of a 1928 Walt Disney film thought to be lost forever has been rediscovered in the archives of the British Film Institute.
Walt Disney Animation Studios has restored the six-minute silent film, Sleigh Bells, which features Mickey Mouse precursor Oswald the Lucky Rabbit and will premiere next month at the BFI in London.
The film originally entered the archives 34 years ago, collected from a film lab went out of business, but nothing about the way it was logged—including the fact that it was dated as being from 1931—suggested its historical value. “There must be a hundred things called Sleigh Bells [in the archives],” a BFI spokesman told The Guardian. While browsing the BFI’s online catalog, a researcher looking for lost Disney films made the discovery recognized the title as a possible missing short.
“What a joyful treat to discover a long-lost Walt Disney film in the BFI national archive and to be able to show it to a whole new audience 87 years after it was made,” Robin Baker, the head curator for the BFI National Archive, said in a statement. “The restoration of this film will introduce many audiences to Disney’s work in the silent period.”