June 11th, 2010

BK - Cannon

Lost Chaplin film discovered?

Ever heard of the Charlie Chaplin short "Zepped"? Neither had anyone else, until Morris Park bought a vintage film tin on eBay for £3.20 and examined its contents, laconically described as "old film" in the listing.
The film, just under seven minutes long, is a mixture of footage of Chaplin and exuberant animation that reminded Park of Monty Python sequences. "It starts with live shots of Chaplin. It then turns into a dreamscape. We see a Zeppelin bombing attack. And then we see Chaplin taking the mickey out of the Zeppelin, at the time a powerful instrument of terror," he said.

[Park and his neighbor John Dyer, the former head of education for the British Board of Film Classification] concluded that the movie, shot on 35mm nitrate film, had been put together as a first world war propaganda piece aimed at defusing fear of airship bombing raids, which had been launched on Britain by Germany from the beginning of 1915.


[Michael Pogorzelski, a film-history expert and director of the archive of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences] believes the film consists of outtakes and footage from previous films re-edited by Essanay, and spliced together with fresh shots of Zeppelins and animated material, to create a "new" film. It was, he said, "definitely important and definitely interesting". It was an example of what he called "either piracy or entrepreneurship – depending on which side of the fence you're on."

Full article in the Guardian available here.