We have all seen or heard of something that is intriguing and unexplainable that keeps us on the edge of our seats and wanting more. Big Foot, the Loch Ness Monster, and the Chupacabra are some of the more popular phenomenons that have a way of luring us in with a morbid curiosity by mixing fact with theory. In the same way that a scary movie can simultaneously stir up butterflies in our stomach and send chills down our spine, the same goes for things that are mysterious and unexplained. It seems that independent filmmaker, George Clarke, has accomplished this very task in 2010.
On October 20, Clarke posted a video stating that he found a clip of a woman (or man dressed as a woman) talking on a cell phone. He goes on to explain that the scene comes from extra footage shot outside of the Chinese Theater at the premier of the Charlie Chaplin classic, “The Circus” in 1928. Upon viewing the clip it does, in fact, look exactly like the person is walking down the sidewalk talking on a cell phone. Clarke admits to examining the clip over and over in slow motion and even showing it to an audience of at least a hundred other people at a film festival only to draw this shocking conclusion : The person in the film is talking on a cell phone and is a time traveler.
It seems that Clarke is firm in his “time traveler” theory and we, the general public, are left to draw our own conclusion. The possibilities of what is actually happening in the clip are endless. Some have speculated that the person could be holding device that is a hearing aid. Others believe that it may be a poultice for a facial injury or a toothache. Many presume that it is a crazy old woman talking to herself with her hand at her cheek.
The real mystery before us is if this is truly unaltered footage from 1928 or an elaborate hoax. The film could be authentic and the image we see before us unexplainable simply because as technological beings of 2010 we can only interpret what we see as someone on a cell phone. Consider for a moment that this footage was shown to someone who didn’t live in a predominantly electronic world. How do you think they would interpret the scene before them? Since the film is more than 80 years old and without sound, we must consider that we are unable to decipher the true scene before us. What is actually happening could be taken out of context. The person could be talking to someone out of the camera’s scope or something similar to that situation.
On the other hand, Clarke is a filmmaker possibly capable of creating this puzzling image that will baffle viewers. In a time where any publicity is good publicity, the idea of creating your own fan base by whatever means necessary is a very real possibility. Creating a hoax to gain notoriety is a tried and true practice that will yield the desired results. If the image is fabricated, the product of such actions have still created what people creating hoaxes want: recognition.
So we are left to wonder if the scene in the footage from 1928 is an innocent bystander performing a seemingly random task that is unable to be deciphered by modern man or if a time traveler talking on a cell phone was caught on film. The simple fact that there is no clear evidence to prove one way or another keeps us all hooked . . . wondering.
Like a oversized primate that allows a rare glimpse of his giant footprint or an elusive underwater monster that lurks in the waters of Loch Ness, George Clarke’s “time traveler” may forever remain an enthralling and spooky unsolved mystery to us all.