In collaboration with American animation historian David Gerstein, the National Library of Norway found Disney’s first Christmas film. (Photo: National Library of Norway)
Film historians believed that 25 seconds was all that was preserved of Disney’s first Christmas film Empty Socks from 1927. Now, the National Library of Norway has found the animated film in its collection.
The American animation historian and comics author David Gerstein had found documents indicating that disappeared Disney movies could be in Norway. He was looking for films about Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Disney’s precursor to Mickey Mouse.
In 2008, Empty Socks was found during a systematic review of the National Library’s collection of nitrate films in Mo i Rana, Northern Norway, but was first earlier this year identified as the missing film from 1927.
– When we sent Gerstein information about this film, he realized that it could not be a Felix the Cat movie. He recognized the action we had described as the story in Empty Socks, an Oswald the Lucky Rabbit movie that was considered lost, says Kjetil Kvale Sørenssen at the National Library of Norway.
Empty Socks is about Oswald the Lucky Rabbit’s Christmas celebration. (Photo: National Library of Norway)
– The only part preserved was a 25 seconds long sequence now located in the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Our copy of the film is about 5 minutes and 30 seconds, only missing about one minute in the middle to be complete, says Sørensen.
Oswald the Lucky Rabbit
The character Oswald the Lucky Rabbit was created by Disney and partner Ub Iwerks in 1927. They produced a series of 26 films with the character before Mickey Mouse was established in 1928. Oswald eventually was taken over by other producers and figured in a number of animated films until 1943.
In Empty Socks, Oswald dress up as Santa Claus and celebrates Christmas with a group of orphans. Disney reused the idea a few years later, in 1931, with Mickey Mouse in the lead role in the animated short film Mickey’s Orphans.
Empty Socks is restored and digital copies are shipped to the Walt Disney Company in the United States, while the original copy is kept in a specially constructed bunker in the National Library’s archives in Mo i Rana.
The Nitrate films are so flammable that they cannot be stored together with the other archival material. The bunker where it is stored has carefully controlled humidity and temperature.
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Text modified by: Thor Lanesskog, ThorNews