Charlie Chaplin fans were seizing Friday when word spread out that a lost Charlie Chaplin film had been found on eBay for $5.68.
Morace Park, who lives in Essex, England, bought the battered olive green film canister listed as “an old film” for £3.20, and found the title Charlie Chaplin in Zepped inside.
Conveniently enough his neighbor, John Dyer, former head of education at the British Board of Film Classification, knew the legend of the lost seven-minute film that includes a Zeppelin bomb attack. Released in 1916, it was believed to be World War I propaganda to reduce fear in Britain of German airship attacks, but the film vanished years ago.
Most recently, a Russian film academic article reported in 2006 that “the film has not survived.”
The fragile 35 mm nitrate film contained live shots of Chaplin and then “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, “Park told The Guardian newspaper.
According to filmmaker Hammad Khan, who was making a documentary about the discovery, “We found a film. A lost film. But not just any old lost film.”
“We think we might have made THE cinematic find of the last 100 years. It’s something we feel compelled to get to the bottom of. And quick.”