Tuesday, 4 April 2017

The Gold Rush (1925)

Fig 1 - The Gold Rush Poster
Charlie Chaplin's The Gold Rush follows the story of a lone prospector (Chaplin) who stumbles upon the Alaskan hideout of a known criminal named Black Larsen (Tom Murray). Larsen and the prospector are soon joined by Big Jim McKay (Mack Swain), another prospector who recently struck gold nearby looking for refuge from the raging blizzard outside. After some time, the three men part ways and Chaplin's prospector finds himself stranded in a small mining town where he meets and falls in love with a girl named Georgia (Georgia Hale). Having sought the help of a good Samaritan, the prospector is left in charge of a modest home where he has made plans to celebrate New Year's Eve with Georgia and her friends. Though as per usual, Chaplin's character finds himself the butt of a joke that leads to utter disappointment, but ultimately his salvation...

Fig 2 - The Gold Rush - Chaplin's 'Prospector'
The Gold Rush marks the fourth Chaplin picture I have seen thus far and I must say I thoroughly enjoyed it. As always, there is the lingering possibility of a love interest (who often parallels with Chaplin's real-life familiars) and a plentiful helping of slapstick comedy. However, I was surprisingly moved by the devastation that befalls Chaplin's prospector from the effort he puts into his New Year's gathering to the realisation that his guests are celebrating elsewhere. With this, the film certainly packs as much of an emotional punch as it does a comedic one, featuring classic cinematic moments such as the 'Thanksgiving Shoe' and the 'Oceana Roll Dance'. That said, the style of comedy this time around felt entirely reminiscent of early Looney Tunes (1930-69) cartoons, with it's houses teetering on cliff edges and characters brandishing shotguns at tasty hallucinations.

Chaplin, of course, is as good as ever here. In terms of the film's faults, I did feel that the segments on the mountain and within the town were slightly more disconnected than they could have been, however it's a very small nitpick. I myself still rate City Lights (1931) as my favourite of his films, but The Gold Rush clearly holds a significant acclaim to Chaplin's filmography. It may not have the thematic depth of his later works, but almost a century later the film firmly stands the test of time in terms of it's mixture of hilarity and sentimentality.


Fig. 1 The Gold Rush Poster (1925) From: The Gold Rush - Directed by: Charles Chaplin


Fig. 2 The Gold Rush Screenshot (1925) From: The Gold Rush - Directed by: Charles Chaplin


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