29 Oct 2010

Guy Posing as Filmmaker Caught on Video?

My favorite type of video to analyze is one where I don’t have to do any research (because I am very, very busy and lazy). So the latest “Chaplin’s Time Traveler” clip that’s taken the Internet by storm should be right up my alley. Unfortunately I did have to do one bit of research. I had to watch the horrifyingly tedious original 8+minute video itself.

After promoting his own name and films in the first 20 seconds, indie UK filmmaker George Clarke spends the rest of the time introducing a 6-second-long piece of old footage taken at the Hollywood premiere of Charlie Chaplin’s 1928 film “The Circus”. The shot shows what looks like a woman talking on a cell phone. An amusingly anachronistic illusion, to be sure. But Clarke’s conclusion is that this might be a time traveler.

Now, the obvious reasons for why this couldn’t possibly be the case have already been pointed out – like the fact that a cell phone requires a wireless network of transmission towers, relay stations and satellites to work. Here’s a casual and hilarious dismantling of the whole thing by the Skepchicks.

But I think we’re all missing the real mystery right in front of us:


Think about it…

First of all, neither of his films (“Battle of the Bone” and “The Knackery”) appear on the Internet Movie Database, even though he says one of them won an award, which would mean it’s been in some kind of festival and hence should be listed on IMDb…


  • -His video is painfully devoid of any sense of pacing.
  • -His camcorder is not properly white-balanced, making everything look orange.
  • -He filmed the Chaplin footage off his TV screen rather than pull it directly from the DVD which any amateur filmmaker could easily do.

And finally… he failed to make the most significant observation about this footage that a filmmaker might contribute:


Look at the deep, sharp, long shadow cast by the woman. The late afternoon sun is blasting her from the side on what must have been a very bright day, considering the low sensitivity of such old film. The woman is simply shielding her face from the light. She may or may not be holding something (like a coin purse or whatever it is people in the 20’s carried around) and she is speaking (perhaps to the man ahead, as the Skepchicks propose) but the reason her hand is up is for shade.

"Arrgh, it burns!"

The only other person we see passing by – the man in the light suit- isn’t shielding his face. But it would’ve been great to see a larger sample of people. Something tells me a few of them would have been holding their hands up, in a similar way.

So yeah, I’m not saying that George Clarke is a hack. I’m totally not saying that. But… you know… a real filmmaker would’ve noticed this.  And his video is quite orange. And long. You be the judge. And don’t forget to watch my award-winning YouTube series “Captain Disillusion”.

Well, I guess we all learned a valuable lesson here. Extraordinary claims require…

I’m sorry, what? … This crap has almost 3 MILLION VIEWS???