“A large woman dressed in black with a hat hiding most of her face, with what can only be described as a mobile phone device – talking as she walks alone. I have studied this film for over a year now – showing it to over 100 people and at a film festival, yet no-one can give any explanation as to what she is doing. My only theory – as well as many others – is simple… a time traveler on a mobile phone.”
Now here’s to our ordinary investigation, which I must say beforehand, won’t come to any definite conclusion since all we have is some seconds of a 1928 film where we can’t actually see what the woman is holding.
It could be anything, including nothing.
Theories abound, and besides the tantalizing idea of a cell phone from a time traveller, two more prosaic possibilities have been discussed. The first and to me, the most probable, is that the woman is simply using an ear trumpet, like this one, from Collect Medical Antiques:
To support this idea, note that her index and middle fingers are more extended, exactly as would be expected if she was holding not a candybar style mobile phone, but a more round object. Like an ear trumpet. Compare how she holds a supposed object with these pictures from Getty Images (left 1974, right 1954)
Those fellows, including English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams at right, were not using cell phones, but simple ear trumpets, available in those forms since very long agoo.
Then again, the woman attending the premiere of Chaplin’s “The Circus” could be holding nothing at all, and simply scratching her head (with her index and middle fingers) or merely blocking the glare of the Sun coming from her left.
The glare of the Sun, by the way, is what projects a shadow of her hand into her face, which is probably what many have confused with evidence of a black cell phone. Fact is, we can’t see what she is holding, if she is holding anything at all.
Granted, she does speak after she stops walking. Someone may have shouted that she was being filmed. If someone spoke to her at all.
But not to end this ordinary investigation without anything at all, let’s answer at least one little puzzle: Clarke wondered if the subject was even a woman, since her shoes seemed much too long. This is simple to explain: the aspect ratio of the image he captured from his widescreen TV is wrong.
If one corrects it, the elliptical sign at the background (“Now Playing Charlie Chaplin ‘The Circus’”) gets round again, and the horse and everything else, including the woman’s shoes, return a more normal aspect.
Even her hand and fingers seem more natural. And in my personal opinion, it seem she is actually using an ear trumpet.
Why would she use it while walking on the street, I don’t know. And judging from the many friends who suggested this topic to be blogged here (thank you all!), the idea that she was a time traveller using a communications device – with a transtemporal Eternal cell phone carrier – is certainly much more attractive.
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