Guardian: Collector finds unseen Charlie Chaplin film in tin

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Bruce Calvert
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Re: Guardian: Collector finds unseen Charlie Chaplin film in tin

Postby Bruce Calvert » Wed Jun 01, 2011 12:16 am

http://www.walesonline.co.uk/showbiz-an ... z1Nzh7f5qk
Rare Charlie Chaplin animation to go under the hammer
WalesOnline
May 31 2011
The only known surviving copy of a Charlie Chaplin film which features some of the earliest known animation is set to go on sale.

Antique collector Morace Park bought the film reel on online auction site eBay for just £3.20 because he like the look of the tin.

But the film inside, called Charlie Chaplin in Zepped, started him off on a worldwide journey as he tried to discover more about it.

The footage, expected to fetch a six-figure sum, shows Chaplin bringing down a German Zeppelin aircraft and is believed to have been made as a morale-boosting propaganda film for British troops.

It contains animation and what might be an early form of special effects.

Mr Park, who has travelled to the US, Switzerland and Germany to investigate the origins of the forgotten film, said experts differed in their interpretation.

He said some believed it was Chaplin’s experimental film, while others said it was made without his knowledge.

There is even a debate over whether the aircraft is real or some kind of puppet.

Mr Park said: “This film is an enigma. It leaves so many unanswered questions. When we showed it to people their draws just dropped.

“But even though we’ve shown it to so many people around the world they can’t agree.”

He said he wanted to bring attention to the importance of forgotten films, adding: “Something like this has never come to market before so how do you value it?”

Mr Park, 47, from Henham in Essex, bought the film in September 2009, discovering the extremely fragile 35mm nitrate reel inside a battered tin box.

The footage lasts almost seven minutes and shows scenes of a Zeppelin raid over London.

Professor Paul Wells, director of the animation academy research group at Loughborough University, believes “the Zeppelin is possibly real, but could also be a premature form of puppetry”.

If the image of the Zeppelin is genuine, it would be the only known live footage of the aircraft over London at that time.

On the other hand, if it is a puppet animation, it is an extremely early example.

The film was classified by the British Board of Film Classification in 1917 and may have been sent to Egypt on a morale-boosting mission for troops.

Film critic and Chaplin biographer David Robinson said: “Though the opening title boldly announces ’Charlie Chaplin in Zepped’ it is highly unlikely that its star ever knew of the film’s existence. Certainly Chaplin had no hand in its making.

“Yet this film has its own special interest as one of the earliest known compilations of found footage.

“The anonymous maker has put together out-takes from three earlier Chaplin films (His New Profession, made for the Keystone Company in 1914, and A Jitney Elopement and The Tramp, both made for Essanay in 1915) with sequences of stop-motion animation, and actual shots of dirigibles (airships).

“In addition the film uses a technique of painting or scratching directly on the film to produce the effect of bomb explosions behind Charlie’s figure.”

Stephanie Connell, head of entertainment memorabilia at Bonhams said: “The fact that this fragile and flammable nitrate film has survived from 1916, features the most iconic film star of the period and has never previously been seen by the wider public, is incredible and it will no doubt become a significant contribution to the history of early film.”

* The film will go on sale at the Bonhams Entertainment Memorabilia auction in Knightsbridge on Wednesday June 29.

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Re: Guardian: Collector finds unseen Charlie Chaplin film in tin

Postby Robert Arkus » Wed Jun 01, 2011 2:44 am

"When we showed it to people their draws just dropped" ... Now that's effective propaganda!! I want to see this reel.

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Re: Guardian: Collector finds unseen Charlie Chaplin film in tin

Postby Bruce Calvert » Wed Jun 01, 2011 4:21 pm

This video from Bonhams shows several shots from the film featuring Chaplin, plus an animated Chaplin. I can't get this message board to allow the embedding of the player.

http://www.bonhams.com/eur/movieentertainmentchaplin/

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Re: Guardian: Collector finds unseen Charlie Chaplin film in tin

Postby Steve Rydzewski » Wed Jun 01, 2011 6:34 pm

Thanks for that link, Bruce.
Gee, just seeing what very little footage they show, it looks like a slapdash collection of already known Chaplin film footage and other scraps from various films (including His New Profession as Richard mentioned, plus The Tramp, and who knows what else). There's probably no unique footage of Chaplin here. I couldn't help but notice on the actual 35mm title frame of Zepped, the small Essanay name in the bottom left corner; and then the gents whipped out a double-page spread ad for the film. So maybe it's not the amateur filmschool project I thought it was. And yes, it does look like a nifty piece of early propaganda.
Yeah, yeah, ok... I admit I do have a curiosity about the film (but I'd still much rather see A Thief Catcher).

sr

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Re: Guardian: Collector finds unseen Charlie Chaplin film in tin

Postby Bruce Calvert » Wed Jun 29, 2011 11:23 pm

http://www.fox44.com/node/5873

– A previously unknown Charlie Chaplin film didn't sell at a auction in London today. The film was found inside a battered film reel tin bought on eBay for just five dollars. It's believed "Charlie Chaplin in 'Zepped'" was a propaganda film made in Britain during the First World War. No word on if the film will go back up for auction again later.

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Re: Guardian: Collector finds unseen Charlie Chaplin film in tin

Postby Gary Johnson » Thu Jun 30, 2011 10:59 am

I noticed the Essay name on the title also. Could it be that the reason we have so many outtakes from the
Mutuals is that he began saving everything so no one could cobble a 'new Chaplin film' from his scraps?

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Re: Guardian: Collector finds unseen Charlie Chaplin film in tin

Postby Bruce Calvert » Thu Jun 30, 2011 12:59 pm

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-13973098

30 June 2011 Last updated at 05:24 ET

Rare Charlie Chaplin film fails to sell
A rare Charlie Chaplin film bought for £3.20 on eBay has failed to sell at auction despite being expected to fetch "a significant six-figure sum".
Charlie Chaplin in Zepped, thought to be a propaganda film made in Britain during World War I, is the only known surviving copy.

But the seven-minute 35mm nitrate film reel only attracted one bid, a Bonham's spokesperson said.

It has not yet been decided if the film will be put up for sale again.

"Obviously we're disappointed the film didn't sell, but it's an unusual item and the nature of auctions means these things are always unpredictable," a spokeswoman told the BBC.

Collector Morace Park bought the reel in 2009 because he liked the look of the tin, and then discovered the film inside it.

The footage, recorded in 1916, features a Zeppelin raid over London and is thought to feature some of the earliest-known animation.

German Zeppelin airships attacked Britain during World War I and Bonham's said Zepped was probably designed to defuse the unease caused by the raids.

A footnote in the records from the British Board of Film Classification in 1917 showed the film had been given an export licence.

The beginning of the film also had censorship frames suggesting it may have been sent over to troops based in Egypt.

However the film was never widely distributed, possibly reflecting the sensitivity of the attacks at the time of its release.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-13975271

30 June 2011 Last updated at 06:49 ET Help
A rare Charlie Chaplin film bought for £3.20 on eBay has failed to sell at auction despite being expected to fetch "a significant six-figure sum". Charlie Chaplin in Zepped, thought to be a propaganda film made in Britain during World War I, is the only known surviving copy.

Collector Morace Park explains to BBC reporter Luisa Baldini why he is not disappointed that the film didn't sell at auction.


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