Open Forum Friday: Has the Charlie Chaplin Time Travel Mystery Been Debunked?

I’ve had a number of people send me links to this video over the past few days, so I figured I had better post about it… especially now that there seems to be a feasible explanation for it all. A couple of days ago, a clip from a 1928 Charlie Chaplin film called “The Circus” started to go viral when someone noticed that an extra in the background appeared to be talking on a cell phone. Filmmaker George Clarke analyzed the clip and uploaded a YouTube video (embedded after the jump) putting forth the rather preposterous notion that the woman must actually be a time traveler from the future. Obviously! Fortunately some better theories have since surfaced that would seem to bury the idea of any visitors from the future.

According to Christian Science Monitor, the lady was most likely using an early form of hearing aid known as an ear trumpet. There were also a number of pocket-sized carbon hearing aids available in the 1920s that are possibilities as well. While this is probably good enough for most people, some conspiracy theorists still think it’s odd that she is seen to be talking into a hearing aid. The response to this is that it’s quite possible that she was just yelling at the person walking in front of her, or even talking to herself. What do you think? Does the hearing aid explanation make sense, or is there really something strange and mysterious going on here? Was this video created just to create publicity for Clarke’s production company, and if so, why did everyone fall for it? Does it make sense that someone from the far future would even be using today’s technology? Give us your thoughts here on Open Forum Friday.



  • It was probably a hearing aid. Again the tech would be outdated for a time traveler. A friend of mine actually sent me a link to another time traveler story and it’s actually much more compelling than the Chaplin one.

    http://planet-flipside.com/index.php/paranormallink/60-timetraveller

  • Colin

    The most ridiculous hole in the “cell phone” argument is that there was no cellular network in the 1920s. A cell phone would be completely useless!

  • Not an ear trumpet. You can’t see anything resembling one in her hand.

    It’s probably not a carbon hearing aid because you didn’t have to hold it to your ear. They had an earpiece with a cord that ran to a thin black box but you didn’t have to hold that box right next to your ear.

    But it sure as hell isn’t a cell phone.

  • Jiggery Joe

    Ghosts existed back then too! How else could this photo possibly be explained:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/nationalmediamuseum/2780177093/

    Now let’s talk about some UFO footage that couldn’t possibly be pie plates…

  • Samiam

    Definitely a time traveler. Crazy old people who talk to themselves in public and hold things to their faces didn’t exist back then.

  • Henrik

    Chaplin put a time traveler in his movie on purpose. The guy was a genius, as is the person who made this video. Pretty sharp.

  • swarez

    I’d like to point out that the clip isn’t from the film but from a news reel from the premiere. The woman isn’t an extra, she’s a pedestrian walking past the Chinese theater.
    She is definitely talking to somebody, whether in to the box she’s holding or to the man walking in front of her but she seems to be talking in to what ever she is holding rather than the man.

  • Brendan

    So, an elderly lady decides to travel back in time to the 1920s, and wanders the streets of Hollywood talking into her (non-functioning) 2010 era cell phone, where she’s accidentally captured on film? Sounds plausible, nay, probable to me!
    How’s this: she’s a time-traveler, but she invented her time machine back in the 1970s. So she’s actually listening to and singing along with her transistor radio. Hey, at least the transistor radio would still work in the 20s!

  • Soop

    Sorry to be such a jerk..but c’mon…really…really????

    Quite possibly the dumbest post on filjunk thus far.

  • Jeaux

    this is the most retarded thing ever it looks like she is just playing with her effing hair. how the hell can so many idiots make such a big deal out of an even bigger idiot who is just trying to advertise his crappy production company.

  • flomojo

    ^^^ Obviously part of the conspiracy to silence awareness of time travelers!

  • Falsk

    @Soop Disagree. Most entertaining post in some time.

    Clearly this time traveler is coming from a point in our history where we’ve created INVISIBLE TECHNOLOGY.

  • KeithTalent

    I think she had a toothache. Back in the day you would hold one of those ice bags to your jaw, trying to quell the swelling. That’s what it looks like to me.

  • Pete

    You’re all fooled – that isn’t even a woman !!

  • Joe

    Maybe she comes from a time so far into the future that cell phone towers aren’t needed for reception.

  • Xidor

    We should all be careful with what we say because the time traveler could erase our existence.

  • I’m pretty sure a time traveler would be in better condition, I mean look at astronauts, ever seen a fat one? Nope.

  • Film Ape

    Stranger things have happened. Ever heard of the Mcrib.

  • what

    She was using an ear phone god damnit, is that so hard to understand? They had small ones that went into the ear at that time too.

    http://www.hearingaidmuseum.com/gallery/Carbon/WesternElectric/info/westelect34a.htm

    I even doubt that she used this. I just think it is stupid to wander around thinking that a woman holding on her head is a cell phone and call it time travel. I mean, there are millions of other rational possibilites, but you guys choose this one?

  • Ramrod

    @what: Of the millions of rational possibilities, it must be true that everyone replying to this post is absolutely serious in thinking this could actually be a picture of a time traveler. XD

  • matt

    if they have mastered time travel i think they could master a phone that works in a different time?

  • Festus Pumpernickel

    Aside from all the scientific reasons why the time travel/cell phone story is absurd, has anyone noticed that the original video produced by the guy who ‘discovered’ said time traveler has a prominently displayed poster of some kind, promoting, um, something?

    Looks to me like the guy is just trying to market something, and found a clever way to get publicity.

  • kyri

    I think the primitive yokel is just trying to clean the wax of his ears..

  • Randon

    That was Doc Brown?

  • Jonny Ashley

    You guys are missing all of the time travelers in The Circus who WEREN’T talking on cell-phones

  • Primal

    If I could actually see an object in that person’s hand, I could understand why people are trippin all over this clip. It just looks like a person with bad arthritis or was covering her face awkwardly.