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Shades of the flux capacitor.

Millions of people have watched a video by a Belfast filmmaker who thinks he has discovered a “time traveler” walking and talking on a cell phone in behind-the-scenes footage of the 1928 opening of a Charlie Chaplin film.

“I was kind of stumped by what I saw,” George Clarke says in his YouTube video, “I kept winding it back … and I couldn’t explain this. Nobody can give me an explanation as to what it is.”

The video:

He explains he found the scene in footage of the 1928 premiere of Chaplin’s “The Circus” that is one of the extra features in a DVD of the film.

In the Celebritology column in the Washington Post, there was skepticism.

“It is possible that other people besides Marty McFly and Doc Brown have made use of the flux capacitor?” The reference is to the Michael J. Fox movie series “Back to the Future.”

“As other commenters have pointed out, if this is true, I really want to know what cellphone network she uses. Because she must get killer reception if she can still chat in the 1920s, without the aid of satellites or towers,” said the Post.

Clarke suggests the image may be of a man dressed as a woman.

The key image appears to be this:


Image of person using cell phone in 1928?

Clarke said he’s shown the image to some 100 people, and no one has been able to explain it fully.

He said the film appears to show a “thin black device that is held to your ear.” He said the knuckles are “bent in the flat shape of a phone.”

“It’s just unexplainable,” he said. “I’m completely stumped.”

At the Post, there was a list of suggested explanations, including that the person is using a hearing aid or using her hand to amplify hearing.

“She’s just adjusting her hat or gesturing to her face: After watching the footage several times, this is the most logical conclusion I can draw. If you watch closely, she eventually starts to put her hand back down and – to me, a non-Irish filmmaker who hasn’t devoted hours to parsing this footage – it looks like there isn’t actually anything in her fist at all,” the Post report said.

On YouTube, other suggestions were abounding, including some that were not so nice.

Kierancliffton said, “Oh, that’s simple, it’s clearly an old woman who’s (sic) ear has fallen off and she is screwing it back on – whilst doing so she is shouting to the man in front saying ‘Oi wait up my ears fallen off!!!’”

Added Rottentoes, “Alas it is just your imagination.”

Yet another, hibernatus, said, “iPhone 5?”

But Utoog738 also was online with a conclusion, “To time travel you need to leave your physical body (OBE), however, you can not take anything material with you, hence no cell phone or anything else. When traveling into the past or future be aware that you can easily slip into alternate timelines.”


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