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27 The Gold Rush 
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Post Re: 27 Gold Rush, The 1925
I actually wrote a full length review for this one. Don't ask me why.

4/4

The Little Tramp is a character that will be remembered forever. Chaplin’s trademark personality has left an impact on cinema that cannot be compared. Throughout all of the hardships of the Great Depression and on into the Second World War, moviegoers could always escape through the movies. It seemed that the lighthearted and comical stumblings of Chaplin let people forget their problems, at least for the duration of the film. And yet his films offer so much more, if you are willing to let them.

Throughout the ‘20s, ‘30s, and ‘40s, Chaplin released dozens of films, many of which received critical acclaim and have influenced many future filmmakers. The Gold Rush, however, meant more to Chaplin than his other works. During production, Chaplin said that this was the film that he wanted to be remembered by. When it was released, it became the fourth highest grossing silent film of all time, and the highest grossing silent comedy. In 1942, he rereleased the film after reediting it and recording a new film score (which was up for an Academy Award) as well as adding a narrator’s dialogue, voiced by himself. This was the first of several rereleases of his films.

Like most of his films, there is a simple plot garnered with classic slapstick hilarity. He was a master of this style. The movie opens with the Tramp marching into the Klondike to do some prospecting. He soon finds a small shack to take shelter in and meets a fugitive who is staying there (Tom Murray). He tries to through the Tramp out, and soon another prospector (Mack Swain) who has just discovered a large gold deposit comes to take shelter as well. After a scuffle, the three settle in. After some time without food, they go their separate ways, and the fugitive and the prospector fight over the claim. The fugitive becomes victim of an avalanche and the prospector receives a large blow to the head, leaving him with amnesia. The Tramp finds his way into town and meets the beautiful Georgia (Georgia Hale) in a dance hall, and he is soon mistakenly convinced that she has fallen in love with him. He soon meets up with the forgetful prospector, who he then leads back to the claim and the two split the riches.

This film depicts the Tramp as a neutral and lonely observer of an active world that flows by around him. Despite all of his attempts, it seems that Chaplin’s screen identity will never truly get what he wants in life. In The Gold Rush, he comes close. One of the most memorable scenes for me was when the Tramp first walks into the dance hall and wanders towards a crowd of people when suddenly the music starts and he is left to watch the dancers from afar. This is what happens in all of the Tramp’s movies – he always comes close to what he wants, and yet he is always somewhat isolated. Despite his separateness, the audience cannot help but to pity him and identify with a part of him. This aspect of the Tramp’s character is achieved beautifully through the unfortunate romance between him and Georgia.

In terms of acting, Chaplin is at his best here. He transitions from slapstick silliness to deep, nuanced, and heart-wrenching facial expressions. For the time in which he courts Georgia, we almost forget that he is the clumsy and awkward little man who was forced to eat his shoe only 20 minutes previously. The other strong performance was that of Georgia Hale, Chaplin’s love interest. Hale’s gorgeous visage is the ideal for silent films. We know that despite how she teases the Tramp and laughs about his secret crush on her, she pities him, and Hale’s performance makes the audience wonder whether or not there is hope for this relationship. She conveys that her character understands the Tramp’s emotional turmoil at a very deep level. She is the society girl and at the same time, a loner, just like Chaplin.

As I watched that 1942 rerelease with the Chaplin narrations, I had to wonder what they were added. At times, I wished that there were cue cards instead, or nothing at all, especially in the opening cabin sequences. Towards the middle, there was less narration, and it really let the film grow by itself without having the newsreel-esque commentary detract. The new music score is utterly beautiful, however, and it was the perfect supplement to the romance between Chaplin and Hale and their performances.

Overall, I think this may be my favorite Chaplin movie. It’s silly, yet involving. It’s a classic plot that has been reused hundreds of times since, but here it’s still interesting. The Tramp lets his audience watch society from afar, and we often discover ugly and beautiful truths. The Gold Rush is more than just escapist slapstick comedy – it is a masterpiece of silent cinema.


Wed Jul 22, 2009 3:13 am
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Post Re: 27 Gold Rush, The 1925
Robert Holloway wrote:
Is there anything wrong here? Well, yes. The DVD is the 1942 release which removed the title cards and inserted a really annoying narration by Chaplin himself. It's hard to know what he was thinking with this version. I tried to ignore it. In fact the DVD is a huge disappointment, not even a commentary - where are you Criterion? But that is a commentary on the DVD not the original movie.

The Chaplin Collection has a two disc set which contains the 1942 version on disc one and the original silent film on disc two. Plus the set has loads of extras, even if it doesn’t come with a commentary. You could try looking there.


Wed Jul 22, 2009 1:29 pm
Post Re: 27 Gold Rush, The 1925
I've seen both the original Gold Rush and the reedited version. In my opinion the 1925 version is far superior though I do have one gripe:

[Reveal] Spoiler:
To me it was clear throughout the movie that Georgia never loved The Tramp, hell I wonder if she even remotely liked him. She pretends to flirt with him at his cabin so she and her friends can get some laughs. It's also very clear that she loved Jack. She even sends him a note saying 'Sorry about last night, I love you'. Jack then passes the note to The Tramp as a prank...Chaplin gets happy but has to leave, mistakenly thinking the note was meant for him.

The next time Chaplin sees Georgia is at the end, on the boat. He still assumes that she loves him, and I grant that she seems nicer to him here...but that could just be pity or she is just happy to see a familiar face among strangers. Why she is even on the boat we do not know...we can assume things did not work out with Jack, but no worry, here is a newly minted millionaire that loves her.


As for the remake...
The one good thing I have to say about the 1942 remake is that the picture quality is stunning. I wonder what Chaplin was thinking with the other changes though, since they seem to hurt the movie.

The 40s style opening credits and the new orchestral score are not welcome, but do not detract badly from the experience. Chaplin does this himself, by providing voice over narration for most of the film. This includes him speaking some of each character's dialogue! This takes away a lot of the film's heart and soul.

The running time of the film is also trimmed by over twenty minutes resulting in some scenes being cut short.

In my opinion, one of the greatest scenes in the original occurs on the stroke of the New Year as the characters in the dance hall celebrate and sing Auld Lang Syne while Chaplin is alone. This scene has been considerably trimmed and no longer carries the same pathos as before.

[Reveal] Spoiler:
Most crucially, the new version makes it seem as if Georgia hated Jack. The scene where she passes the note to Jack saying she loves him is cut. Instead of Jack then passing that note to Chaplin as a prank, Chaplin now receives the note directly from Georgia saying she is sorry about dinner.

In some ways I should be happy about this, since my main problem with the original is that Georgia always loved Jack and not Chaplin, whereas this version makes it seem that she always hated Jack and is initially indifferent to Chaplin, but then starts to like him. However, this may be the worst change of all because it actually changes the movie's plot whereas the other changes are mostly cosmetic.

Finally, the different ending (recap: instead of ending with the kiss, it ends when Chaplin and Georgia climb the stairs together.) I much prefer the original ending, but I don't think that this change really detracts from the remake.


In short: see the original 1925 version. It is, in my humble opinion, far superior to the remake.

I captured a nice still from the DVD that I would've liked to share, but I've been browsing Reelviews using a proxy and unfortunately I cannot attach an image.


Sat Jul 25, 2009 12:04 pm
Post Re: 27 Gold Rush, The 1925
Imageshack to the rescue...

There is a wonderful (and very sad) shot that is intercut with the Auld Lang Syne scene in the original Gold Rush. Chaplin leaves the cabin, stops in the doorway and turns his head so we can see his face. His expression is heartbreaking...but for some reason this was cut in the remake.

Image


Mon Jul 27, 2009 11:58 pm
Post Re: 27 Gold Rush, The 1925
ed_metal_head wrote:
Imageshack to the rescue...

There is a wonderful (and very sad) shot that is intercut with the Auld Lang Syne scene in the original Gold Rush. Chaplin leaves the cabin, stops in the doorway and turns his head so we can see his face. His expression is heartbreaking...but for some reason this was cut in the remake.

Image



Yeah, anyone who has seen that moment, will not quickly forget
Rob


Tue Jul 28, 2009 1:06 am
Post Re: 27 Gold Rush, The 1925
One of the most oft discussed silent film topics is Chaplin vs Keaton

From my perspective they are both cinematic greats, so it's arguing over 9.5 and 10 out of 10

What sets Chaplin apart for me though is the creation of a character that would endear us to him. Keaton produced many great individual films but somehow I never loved his creations. i just admired.

Rob


Tue Jul 28, 2009 1:09 am
Post Re: 27 Gold Rush, The 1925
Everyone compares the two, but I feel this is somewhat unfair to Buster Keaton. As competition, Charlie Chaplin is pretty overwhelming; it’s sort of like comparing Ben Jonson to Shakespeare: sure the two were contemporaries, friends, and rivals, but one is so iconic that it creates a pretty large disparity between the two. That out of the way, I’m another person that loves Chaplin’s films while only admiring Keaton’s. Keaton was one of the great artists of cinema, but Chaplin was one of the greatest artists of the Twentieth Century—in any medium.

Still, Keaton has some points in his favor. It’s arguable that Keaton is funnier. Chaplin’s face is better at expressing meaning and feelings, but Keaton’s stoic expression is an almost perfect medium when it comes to reacting to physical comedy. Personally I’ll admit that Keaton’s slapstick makes me laugh harder than his rival, even if he's often not as memorable or creative as Chaplin when it comes to how he makes me laugh. There’s certainly nothing I can think of from Keaton’s filmography that matches the spectacle of the cabin hanging from the cliff in The Gold Rush or the inventiveness of the angel of temptation scene from The Kid. I might be overlooking something, but even the fact that I might be doing so is demonstrative of the difference between the two greats: Chaplin is simply more memorable. Besides, Chaplin’s ability to create a funny and unforgettable scene is only one small aspect of why he is so loved.

In all of cinema, I can’t think of any character that I identify with more strongly than the Tramp in The Kid, Modern Times, City Lights, or The Gold Rush. It’s a remarkable tribute to Chaplin’s artistry that a viewer can laugh at his most famous character while still totally identifying with and rooting for him. The universe that the Tramp, the Jewish barber from The Great Dictator, and Monsieur Verdoux inhabit is absurd and permeated by hostile forces; yet the darkness in these films never becomes oppressive because of the likableness of Chaplin himself (even in Verdoux). For example, the scene in Modern Times where the Tramp works in an assembly line, has a nervous breakdown, then transforms the cold and mechanistic environment of the factory into a kind of strange yet powerfully human ballet is remarkable. As a representation of the state of the proletariat in the Twentieth Century, the elegance of this scene is unsurpassed.

Furthermore, the appeal of Chaplin’s films somehow seems so much more universal than Keaton’s, well beyond Chaplin’s own time, place, or culture. I once watched a documentary on The Gold Rush where they showed a screening of the film for children in a modern African village. The children’s reaction to the film was really positive; they enjoyed it. I’m not sure that even Keaton’s best films -- say The General or Sherlock Jr. -- have that kind of universality.


Tue Jul 28, 2009 4:35 am
Post Re: 27 Gold Rush, The 1925
Ratel wrote:
Everyone compares the two, but I feel this is somewhat unfair to Buster Keaton. As competition, Charlie Chaplin is pretty overwhelming; it’s sort of like comparing Ben Jonson to Shakespeare: sure the two were contemporaries, friends, and rivals, but one is so iconic that it creates a pretty large disparity between the two. That out of the way, I’m another person that loves Chaplin’s films while only admiring Keaton’s. Keaton was one of the great artists of cinema, but Chaplin was one of the greatest artists of the Twentieth Century—in any medium.

Still, Keaton has some points in his favor. It’s arguable that Keaton is funnier. Chaplin’s face is better at expressing meaning and feelings, but Keaton’s stoic expression is an almost perfect medium when it comes to reacting to physical comedy. Personally I’ll admit that Keaton’s slapstick makes me laugh harder than his rival, even if he's often not as memorable or creative as Chaplin when it comes to how he makes me laugh. There’s certainly nothing I can think of from Keaton’s filmography that matches the spectacle of the cabin hanging from the cliff in The Gold Rush or the inventiveness of the angel of temptation scene from The Kid. I might be overlooking something, but even the fact that I might be doing so is demonstrative of the difference between the two greats: Chaplin is simply more memorable. Besides, Chaplin’s ability to create a funny and unforgettable scene is only one small aspect of why he is so loved.

In all of cinema, I can’t think of any character that I identify with more strongly than the Tramp in The Kid, Modern Times, City Lights, or The Gold Rush. It’s a remarkable tribute to Chaplin’s artistry that a viewer can laugh at his most famous character while still totally identifying with and rooting for him. The universe that the Tramp, the Jewish barber from The Great Dictator, and Monsieur Verdoux inhabit is absurd and permeated by hostile forces; yet the darkness in these films never becomes oppressive because of the likableness of Chaplin himself (even in Verdoux). For example, the scene in Modern Times where the Tramp works in an assembly line, has a nervous breakdown, then transforms the cold and mechanistic environment of the factory into a kind of strange yet powerfully human ballet is remarkable. As a representation of the state of the proletariat in the Twentieth Century, the elegance of this scene is unsurpassed.

Furthermore, the appeal of Chaplin’s films somehow seems so much more universal than Keaton’s, well beyond Chaplin’s own time, place, or culture. I once watched a documentary on The Gold Rush where they showed a screening of the film for children in a modern African village. The children’s reaction to the film was really positive; they enjoyed it. I’m not sure that even Keaton’s best films -- say The General or Sherlock Jr. -- have that kind of universality.



Hi Ratel

Really well put. I am so enjoying discussing these movies with people who have some thoughts beyond the more conventional one / two liners.

i agree that the comparison, while often made, is a little unfair, hence my comment that they are both great.

I had not thought of the stoicism of Keaton being at the center of his appeal, but now that you mention it, that's right.

Chaplin's little tramp was able to convey pathos as well as humor and thats a very powerful combination that many of our modern comedic actors would do well to think about. I once read a wonderful article from two of Britain's finest writers who created Steptoe. Their point of view was that the great comedic characters ultimately develop out of a background of sadness and tragedy.

Rob


Tue Jul 28, 2009 10:41 am
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Post Re: 27 The Gold Rush
My view on it is that Chaplin made three films that are better than any of Keaton's (The Gold Rush, City Lights and Modern Times), but Keaton made more good silent features, and just about all his shorts are good. I don't like The Kid, which is cloying. I love A Dog's Life, Shoulder Arms and Easy Street, but overall Keaton's shorts are much better that Chaplin's. This is partly because Chaplin started several years earlier and was learning the medium, while Keaton knew it thoroughly by the time he directed his first short.

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Sun Dec 27, 2009 11:48 pm
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