Mickey Mouse has always loved to dance, but his latest jig is up. For months Walt Disney Studios Animation has hinted at the existence of a ”never-before-seen” Mickey short called Get a Horse!, which early stills suggested had been made in the rough-hewn black-and-white style of 1920s-era animation pioneered by Disney innovator Ub Iwerks. And Walt Disney, who was the voice of Mickey until 1946, was said to be featured in Horse.
It turns out that ”never-before-seen” is actually another way of saying ”brand-new.” The studio came clean about the short at its recent D23 Expo in Anaheim, Calif., where Get a Horse! was screened in its entirety and was revealed to be a completely original creation that fuses old-timey flair with state-of-the-art digital, 3-D animation. ”What that simpler early animation had in its DNA was a whole lot of rude, crude life. It hadn’t yet decided to march along the film world’s evolutionary path,” says Simpsons veteran Lauren MacMullan, who directed the short, which premieres on Nov. 27 in front of Disney’s latest animated adventure, Frozen.
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 that built his empire. This first theatrical film since 1995 to feature the red-shorts-wearing icon 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 appears to be in the theater with the audience. He and a host of other characters chase each other back and forth from the stage to the screen, leaping 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 though they sat through the whole thing, still think it’s all [a found film],” says MacMullan, the first woman to direct a Disney animated film on her own. ”It maybe comes from a fervent desire to believe that it 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.”