1917 Chaplin Film Alters Movie History
A print of a Charlie Chaplin film purchased on eBay for about $5 in 2009 could sell for more than $160,000 when it is offered at Bonham's auction house in London on June 29, appraisers have indicated. The film, made in 1917 during World War I, features Chaplin in his tramp costume bringing down a German Zeppelin flying over London. Titled Zepped , the film was produced a year after a Zeppelin did in fact drop several bombs over a small town in England, believing it to be the port city of Liverpool. Film historians who viewed the film were surprised to see several animated sequences combined with live action. Collector Morace Park, who bought the film, said that experts who have seen it told him that such special-effects techniques were "not known to have existed at that time, so what they're saying is it's rewritten film history." Park said that some 20 film historians have now viewed it, "and they all say the same thing 'We've never seen anything like this before. ... This teaches us about things about early film history that we simply didn't know.'" Southampton University Professor Michael Hammond agreed. "This is a watershed moment in film history," he said in a video produced by Bonham's in advance of the sale.