The Old Mill is a 1937 Silly Symphony cartoon produced by Walt Disney, directed by Wilfred Jackson, scored by Leigh Harline, and released to theatres by RKO Radio Pictures on November 5, 1937. The film depicts the natural community of animals populating an old abandoned windmill in the country, and how they deal with a severe summer thunderstorm that nearly destroys their habitat. It incorporates the song "One Day When We Were Young" from Johann Strauss II's operetta The Gypsy Baron.
Like many of the later Silly Symphonies, The Old Mill was a testing ground for advanced animation techniques. Marking the first use of Disney's multiplane camera, the film also incorporates realistic depictions of animal behavior, complex lighting and color effects, depictions of rain, wind, lightning, ripples, splashes and 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 The Old Mill would subsequently be incorporated into Disney's feature-length animated films, such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), which was released a month later, as well as Pinocchio (1940), Fantasia (1940) and Bambi (1942).
In 2015, the United States Library of Congress selected the film for preservation in the National Film Registry, finding it "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".
The Old Mill won the 1937 Academy Award for Best Short Subjects: Cartoons.
It is ranked at IMDb as the 46th most popular short film ever.
It was included as #14 in the book The 50 Greatest Cartoons As Selected by 1,000 Animation Professionals.
The Old Mill is featured in the World of Color show at Disney California Adventure.
The three mills from the short were seen in miniature on the Storybook Land Canal Boats ride at Disneyland. Beginning December 20, 2014, they were replaced by landmarks from Disney's 2013 film Frozen. The miniature windmills were put into storage by Walt Disney Imagineering.
The Old Mill is represented at Fantasyland at Disneyland Paris by a building resembling a Dutch windmill, which serves drinks and snacks.
The Old Mill was parodied in The Simpsons episode "Bart Has Two Mommies", where Homer tries to win a rubber duck race by making his rubber duck cross the finish line first. The duck however floats to an abandoned windmill very similar to the one in the classic Disney short, with a sign declaring: "The Old Mill." The scene where the duck is nearly squashed by the water wheel is a direct reference to the most famous scene of The Old Mill. Raymond Scott's "Powerhouse B" is heard in the scene where Homer protected the duck from the water wheel.
The Old Mill was released on the Walt Disney Treasures line of Silly Symphonies Vol. 1. It was also released on Blu-ray on March 1, 2011, on the Bambi Diamond Editions Blu-ray disc as a special feature. Also available at iTunes Store.
Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki has called The Old Mill his favorite Disney film.