Entertainment & Arts

Rare Charlie Chaplin film fails to sell

Frames from Charlie Chaplin in Zepped
The rare film was discovered inside a battered cinema reel tin

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.

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