Posts Tagged ‘silent movies’

A Bid On History

March 23, 2012

Speaking of Charlie Chaplin, another interesting tidbit I’ve been waiting to blog about since June of last year when I found the story and emailed it to myself. But they say things happen for a reason and it’s a nice capper to my impromptu game of “six degrees” this week on the blog, that started out, you may remember, with a comment about the research on whether dinosaurs and man ever co-existed, as, apparently, incorrectly depicted by the Flintstones.

So we end the week with Charlie Chaplin and a recently (as of  last June) discovered seven minute short film from 1917 he made during World War I. It’s called “Zepped” and in it, Chaplin plays his tramp character who brings down a German Zeppelin flying over London.

The film, as the article states, was bought on Ebay in 2009 for $5 and appraisers had indicated it could fetch in the neighborhood of $160,000 when it was to go up for auction at Bonhams’ in London last June 29.

What makes this film stand out, besides the rather historical accuracy (a Zeppelin had in fact dropped several bombs over a small England town the year before the film was made), is that Chaplin mixed special effects, such as animated sequences combined with live action,  that were “not known to have existed at that time” said Morace Park, the film collector who made the $5 purchase and that 20 film historians have said it has rewritten film history.

Now I’m all goose-pimply in the hopes that one day this film will be made available. As an aside, a second, incomplete print of the film popped up in a second hand shop in South Shield, UK.

But this isn’t the only thing that I’ve been impressed with by Charlie Chaplin, whose movies I could watch over and over and over again. Except it’s incredibly hard to do during the day while I’m working because silents must be watched, alas.

I remember seeing a documentary once about this beloved innovative comic genius and a certain scene has always stuck out in my mind. And oh, what it took for me to locate it to put on the blog today. And now that I’ve found it, I’m sharing it with you. Listen to the narrator, who, if I’m not mistaken, is actor James Mason, until the disappointing end of the clip.

Now I’m all goose-pimply watching this scene. 

Also disappointing is the fact that “Zepped” failed to attract a buyer at that auction last June; the price was set too high.  I don’t know, I’m thinking for a piece of history like that, no price is too high. If I had it to spend, I’d have snatched that puppy right up. Mo Park, if you’re out there, let’s talk!