Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Gold Rush (1925)

Title: The Gold Rush (1925)

Director: Charles Chaplin


Don’t know how many of you guys and gals out there like watching old movies like this one, but I thoroughly enjoy searching out these old gems. Especially if they are really good classics like this one. If you are a true lover of films, you reach a point where you want to go past the stage of just watching whatever is new and you kind of start going back in film history, seeing where it all began. Seeing those classics that you never even knew existed. You would be surprised at just how entertaining some of these old silent movies can be, specially when it was Charlie Chaplin making them! Film was still on its early stages back then. Films didn’t have sound yet,  all actors could rely on were facial gestures and body language. It was a different kind of cinema because I find that sound makes up 50% of the cinematic equation. Sound and music is so important to how you see and feel a movie. But back in those days it was different. Image was king, and actors carried a lot of the film on their shoulders. They had full responsibility over what you saw and felt in a movie. Examples of great silent cinema are films like Fritz Lang’s Metropolis and F.W. Murnau’s Faust, two masterpieces of German expressionism that you shouldn’t miss if you are interested in exploring silent films. But to me Charlie Chaplin was king of silent films. The guy was so successful back in those days and he did what he did so well that studios fully trusted his genius and ability to make money! They gave him his own studio and his own filmmaking crew! He would be free to create whatever the hell he wanted to create. The result was often times magic. The Gold Rush is the film that he wanted to be remembered by, it’s the one he cherished the most and the one many call his masterpiece. I find it difficult to call any one of his films his ultimate masterpiece, cause to me, they are all masterpieces!

Story revolves around “the lone prospector” a.k.a. The Tramp. A poor schmoe looking for a way to make some money. So like many people back in those days, he makes his way to the Alaskan Gold Rush. While making his way up the mountains in search of gold, he suddenly finds himself lost in the middle of the snowy mountains! So he takes refuge in an isolated cabin he finds along the way where he meets another prospector and a fugitive of the law. The three must find a way to get some food and survive the harsh winter cold! After that, the lone prospector decides to stop searching for gold and decides to get a job in town where he falls in love with a saloon girl and must fight for her affections. Will he ever win her heart even though he is just a poor moneyless tramp? And will his destiny ever change?

The thing I find so amazing about films like this one is how much emotion these actors could portray without sound or dialog. When you see Chaplin acting in one of his silent films, you could almost swear you hear some dialog going on even though the film has non! His body talks! It was something that Chaplin always fought for. He liked the way silent films worked, the art of saying a lot without uttering a single word. I have to admit, I like this as well, because Chaplin is such a well of emotions. Trust me, Chaplin could orchestrate a scene that will have you laughing like a mad man, and a few minutes later, he will have you at the verge of tears. There are some truly emotional moments on this one that will pull your heartstrings. There is this one scene where Chaplin is expecting this woman he has fallen in love with, and he prepares the dinner table for when she and her friends arrive, but she never arrives! So he starts imagining like she is there with him, its so sad! To make things worse, it’s New Years Eve! And he is all alone!

There are many memorable moments like this one in The Gold Rush. When you watch this movie, you will know where many of the old Warner Bros. cartoons got their inspiration from. Some of the situations in The Gold Rush seem cartoon like and funny. To give you a taste of the cartoonish nature of some scenes in this film; there is a scene in which the three dudes in the lonely cabin are getting extremely hungry. One of them starts looking at Chaplin and suddenly, under the effects of hunger, Chaplin starts to look like a big fat juicy chicken to him! One scene has Chaplin so hungry that he takes off his shoe, boils it and eats it as if he was eating a feast! Another classic moment has Chaplin using two forks and two pieces of bread to do this little dance thing on the dinner table. There is a scene in which a house is teetering on the edge of a cliff! And at the last minute Chaplin jumps out of it! There are many scenes on this film which are considered to be some of the most famous cinematic images in history. For that alone, you should do yourself a favor and watch this film.

The version of the film I saw was the 1942 re-release of the film. The original version of the film released in 1925 was completely silent, but for this re-release Chaplin added some narration (which he did himself) and added some music to it. He also edited a few seconds out of it and tightened the pace a bit.  The Gold Rush is a very important film, those of you interested in diving deeper into cinematic history need to start watching Chaplin films at some point. These movies are so slapstick, have such perfect timing with their gags and their comedy and they show us just how much of a genius Chaplin was. He wasn’t just funny and inventive; he was also touching, a very emotional, very human actor. I have yet to see a film of his that disappoints.

Rating: 5 out of 5


Manuel Marrero said...

I love this movie. I find it more funny than sad really. I was amazed how Chaplin moved like a chicken while wearing that suit, he looked like real life chicken, purely he's a genius in whatever he does.

Franco Macabro said...

Curious note: A stunt double was going to do the chicken thing, but since he couldnt mimick Chaplins movements, Chaplin had to do it himself!

Another interesting tid bit of info: The scene where Chaplin eats the shoe was done by making the shoe out of licorice! After doing the scene over and over, Chaplin had to be sent to the hospital for insulin shock!

Reina said...


Simon said...

...he always makes me tear up...when he soundtracks his movies, they always sound so sad...

Franco Macabro said...

@Reina: Yeah, he had that effect on women, he practically fell in love with every actress that he put on his films! He was quite the womanizer in real life!

@Simon: Agree entirely, the music he put on his films was so sad sometimes, but sometimes it was very uplifting as well, even when they were sad. For example "smile" is a sad/happy song.


Related Posts with Thumbnails