The Old Mill

A Look Back at the Oscars®—The Old Mill

By Christina Pappous, Walt Disney Archives

In honor of the upcoming Academy Awards® ceremony, let’s take a look back at some of Walt Disney’s Oscar-winning films. First up, The Old Mill (1937), winner of best Short Subject (Cartoon) at the 10th Academy Awards (1938).This charming short depicts the efforts of birds, toads, and other critters to stay safe and dry in—where else!—an old, abandoned mill as a raging thunderstorm rolls in.

Most notably, the entry was the first of the Silly Symphony series to utilize the multiplane camera in production. Through the use of layered, painted backgrounds on glass plates, the camera was able to add a sense of depth to the animated film’s backgrounds and setting.

The opening of The Old Mill is just one of many terrific examples of how the camera was employed in the short. For this innovation, studio technology wizard William Garity and his team from Walt Disney Productions were also awarded a special Scientific and Technical-category Academy Award® during the 1938 award ceremony.

To see the multiplane camera in action as well as all the critters of the mill braving the storm, be sure to catch The Old Mill, streaming on Disney +!