Mickey Mouse always loved to dance, but this particular jig is up.
For months, Walt Disney Animation Studios has hinted at the existence of a “never-before-seen” Mickey short called Get a Horse! From the early stills, it appeared to be in the rough-hewn, black-and-white style of 1920s-era animation pioneered by Disney innovator Ub Iwerks. Walt Disney himself was said to be the voice of Mickey, a job he stopped doing in 1946.
But “never-before-seen” is actually a euphemism for “brand new,” which the company came clean about at the recent D23 fan convention in Anaheim, Calif., where Get a Horse! was screened in its entirety and revealed to be a wholey original creation that fuses old-timey flare with state-of-the-art digital animation and 3-D effects.
The image above is the first picture released showing both formats in action.
“What that simpler early animation had in it’s DNA was a whole lot of rude, crude life. It hadn’t yet decided to march along the film world’s evolutionary path,” says director Lauren MacMullan, a veteran of The Simpsons.
As for Uncle Walt’s involvement? That part is true – all of Mickey’s dialogue is purloined from previous recordings of Disney voicing the mouse who built his empire.
Mickey has spent most of his time as a corporate icon, and this is his first theatrical short since 1995’s Runaway Brain.
Get a Horse! starts out as a scratchy, vintage picture, with Mickey and Minnie riding on a hay wagon while villainous Peg-Leg Pete menaces them from his rattletrap automobile. Soon, Mickey is thrown up against the screen, eventually bursting through a hole, and landing on a 3-D stage that’s seemingly in the theater with the audience.
Then he and a host of other characters chase each other back and forth from the stage to the screen, transforming from full-color, three-dimensional “reality” to the flat, monochromatic world of the old-school cartoon.
Despite the obviously modern flourish, some viewers remain fooled. “There are still some Internet sites and people who, even thought they sat through the whole thing, still think its all [a found film],” says MacMullan, the first woman to solo direct a Disney animated film. “It maybe comes from a fervent desire to believe that could be true. I really wish that were the case — except for the fact that no one would let me direct a short in 1928.”