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Disney Wiki

The Old Mill is a 1937 Silly Symphony cartoon produced by Walt Disney, directed by Wilfred Jackson, scored by Leigh Harline, and released to theaters by RKO Radio Pictures on November 5, 1937. It depicts the natural community of animals populating an abandoned windmill in the country and how they deal with a violent thunderstorm that nearly destroys their habitat.

Like many of the later Silly Symphonies, the short was a testing-ground for advanced animation techniques. Marking the first use of Disney's multiplane camera, the short also incorporates realistic depictions of animal behavior, complex lighting and color effects, depictions of rain, wind, lightning, ripples, splashes, reflections, three-dimensional rotation of detailed objects, and the use of timing to produce specific dramatic and emotional effects. All of the lessons learned from making it would subsequently be incorporated into Disney's feature-length animated films, especially Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

The short won the 1937 Academy Award for Best Short Subjects: Cartoons. In 1994, it was voted #14 of the 50 Greatest Cartoons of all time by members of the animation field. It is ranked at the IMDb top short list as the 17th greatest short film ever.


The short starts off near an old, abandoned windmill somewhere in any European country with many animals living within it. As night sets in, several frogs, grasshoppers and fireflies sing a tone until a sudden storm. Strong winds begin to blow at the windmill making it spin slightly due to a rope lodged in the gear. A mother bird fearing for the life of her eggs stay with her nest as the rope breaks and the windmill spins. The mother is saved from be crushed by the gear due to her nesting spot being line with a broken knot in the gear. As the storm grows the wind strike the windmill causing it to fall apart until a lightning strike hit a blade on the mill which caused it to lean. After the storm the animals emerge from their shelters.

Voice cast

Disney Parks

The Old Mill was a snack bar and Ferris wheel type attraction at Disneyland Paris, but the attraction component closed in 2000.

Tom Sawyer Island at the Magic Kingdom features an homage to the Old Mill in the Harpers Mill walkthrough, with a animatronic owl in the rafters and a bird nest in a broken cog of the mill wheel.

Footage of the short is also featured in the World of Color presentation at Disney California Adventure.



Home video






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