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The Lens: eBay buy equals film treasure

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 9, 2009 - Just as the nation's film archivists were meeting in St. Louis for their annual meeting came news of one of the most amazing historical discoveries since an uncut print of "Metropolis" was found in South America a year ago.

A man in England purchased a can of film - simply labeled "old film" - on eBay and discovered that it contained a short film by Charlie Chaplin called "Zepped," an unusual mixture of live-action and animation unknown to Chaplin scholars. Believed to date from 1915, the film shows Chaplin outwitting cartoon zeppelins and may have been made as a kind of public service announcement to reduce panic during World War I.

It's also possible that the film was largely pieced together from earlier Chaplin films and contains little if any previously unseen footage. We'll know more once the historians and preservationists take a look at it. Archivists, do your stuff!

The Lens blog is from Cinema St. Louis and hosted by the Beacon.