on 21 January 2015
Oh, bring back the b/w silent movies! So funny, and typically Chaplinesque, with The Gold Rush being the cream. You get two versions of this classic film, the 1925 restored version with added pianist (if you don't like sound just turn down the volume) and the later one released and edited, with Charlie Chaplin himself speaking the words we didn't hear first time around. Personally I prefer the earlier one.
Who can ever forget the chicken scene, this is the one that has stayed in my mind since I was a very young child in the 1950s/60s and sat with my parents roaring with laughter at his antics. That was the usual clip shown on TV at special times, mostly at Christmas and bank holidays with other excerpts from Disney films et al. You may like to know that Chaplin decided to play the part of the chicken. After several takes using another actor, he wasn't happy with it and said it just didn't look right.
I decided to watch the whole film before wrapping it for my partner's birthday and I can honestly say it was a masterpiece. I didn't realise it was about an hour long with so much more than just the frozen hut in the middle of a blizzard.
Can't wait to see my partner's face when he gets this on his birthday! An absolute gem and worth every penny!
on 30 November 2013
The Criterion Collection's remastered The Gold Rush (1925) is undoubtedly the Charlie Chaplin release of 2012. For years, the prevailing critical consensus was that Gold Rush was Chaplin's feature film masterpiece. However, a newer generation of critics have since argued that honor should go instead to City Lights (1931). The Gold Rush receives criticism for its episodic structure; however, all of Chaplin's features, including City Lights, are episodic to a degree. This is not necessarily a bad thing, making that a moot critique.
The Criterion Collection release features the 1925 original, along with the 1942 re-edit that omitted the intertitles in favor of narration (by Chaplin) and economically trimmed down of some excess plot developments. While the 1942 version does look better and the editing is better paced, Chaplin's voice-over actually dates the film far worse than the silent original.
Chaplin had a voice which carried well into the sound era. He intuitively knew that silent film was a different art form, however. Thinking about marketing, he seemed to have forgotten that fact. The 1942 version illustrates the artist's discomfort with sound. Chaplin never could wrap his art around the new sound medium, and he pointlessly tells us what we are already seeing. Some may prefer the 1942 version, but my concentration will be on the superior, original version that audiences of 1925 saw.
While The Gold Rush exhibits Chaplin's characteristic pathos, here it is far better balanced with his brand of comedy than any of his other features (when the pathos, often, nearly soaked the films).
Chaplin's increasing need for audience sympathy marred may of his later features. Here, he keeps that need in check, and all for the better. Chaplin's Mutual shorts are considered by many (including Chaplin) to be his best work. One of the reasons for that is the presence of his best nemesis in Eric Campbell. But, when Campbell was killed in an automobile accident in 1917, Chaplin was left without a great heavy. His first feature film, The Kid (1921) was able to bypass that. For this, Chaplin's second Tramp feature, two villains were needed: the bonafide villain Black Larson (Tom Murray) and reformed villain Big Jim McCay (Mack Swain). While neither Swain nor Murray could replace Campbell, they were aptly cast and give the film needed tension.
The Gold Rush`s most discussed scene is the dance of the dinner rolls, often imitated (and usually badly--Chaplin was a master at utilizing props for something other than their intended use). What may be the most compelling scene, however, is the surreal chicken hallucination. Everyone has seen this scene spoofed in countless Looney Tune shorts. The starving villain (Swain) imagines his buddy (Chaplin) to be a walking meal (in this case, a plump chicken). Chaplin's shoe-eating scene (complete with shoe laces substituting for noodles) and the rocking house at the edge of the cliff are additional surreal vignettes.
While Chaplin was never a Surrealist, many of his films contained surreal vignettes. The Kid had the dream of heaven, Sunnyside (1919) has the Tramp frolicking in a ballet with hill nymphs. Perhaps it was Chaplin's occasional, natural elements of Surrealism which endeared him to the movements luminaries, such as André Breton. Next to Harry Langdon and Buster Keaton, Chaplin was the filmmaker most cited by the Surrealists.
As The Gold Rush progresses, hunger, the struggle for survival, and harsh elements give way to a soapy romance with the dance hall girl Georgia (Georgia Hale). Chaplin had originally cast 15 year-old Lita Grey in the role, but his getting her pregnant necessitated a new lead actress. While Chaplin does milk sympathy as a rejected lover, he never does it (here) at the expense of the film's comedic tone.
As to be expected, the Criterion extras are abundant: both film versions, a 15 minute short (Presenting The Gold Rush), audio commentary, booklet, a look at Chaplin the composer, and James Agee's famous 1942 review of the film.
*my review originally appeared at 366 weird movies
on 4 September 2010
Please note that Amazon have decided to put this review on both the Park Circus and the Criterion blu-ray pages. The review I posted below concerns the Park Circus blu-ray only, and I neither intended nor expected it to crop up on the Criterion blu-ray page.
Park Circus seem to have got things the wrong way round here. The 1925 original (restored by Kevin Brownlow) is the version that people want to see on Blu Ray, not the 1942 version with Chaplin's commentary. The DVD contains everything, including all the extras and Brownlow's restoration of the 1925 original, whilst the Blu Ray only contains the 1942 version of The Gold Rush. All in all this release is not what it appears to be ... disappointing and deliberately misleading. Caveat emptor.
on 21 December 2014
Quite possibly Chaplin's most popular and endearing feature length film, it is regarded as a masterpiece by many who have watched it over the years. It contains some of the classic Chaplin trademarks including the dance of the bread rolls and the wooden cabin precariously balanced on the edge of a cliff.
This version has been cleaned up very well and made to fit widescreen tv sets which is a bonus nowadays. As well as that the original 1920's silent movie has been given a music score, sound effects as well as a narration, all done by the little fellow himself back in 1942.
I never tire of watching this and as Chaplin's work is so rarely shown on television nowadays it comes as a real treat to have it available on DVD.