[Film Review] The Gold Rush (1925)

The Gold Rush poster.jpg

Title: The Gold Rush
Year: 1925
Country: USA
Language: English
Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Drama
Director/Writer/Editor: Charles Chaplin
Music: Charles Chaplin, Max Terr
Cinematography: Roland Totheroh
Cast:
Charles Chaplin
Mark Swain
Georgia Hale
Malcolm Waite
Tom Murray
Henry Bergman
Rating: 8.2/10

The Gold Rush 1925.jpg

A consummate Chaplin feature that exhibits all the best qualities of his little tramp alter ego (bowler hat, morning coat, cane and mustache, the whole combo) on the screen: happy-go-lucky but scrappy if at a pinch, gentlemanlike but not without wits of keeping a leery eye on the possible danger, romantic but also self-abasing and a tad melancholic, often concomitant with surprisingly funny idiosyncrasies and gaffes, but THE GOLD RUSH, also squeezes humor and laughter through the trials and tribulations of those gold diggers in the Klondike Gold Rush near the dog end of 19th century.

Chaplin plays an unnamed, lone prospector, whom this reviewer will simply refer to as the tramp henceforward, a howling blizzard entraps him in a cabin with two strangers, a corpulent fellow prospector Big Jim McKay (Swain, ponderous but game) and a surly wanted criminal Black Larsen (Murray). Chaplin sets out his stall within the poky space of a cabin, being the runt among the trio, the tramp is often too close for comfort and after the ingenious “grand” meal of one of his shoes (shoelace, leather vamp and shoe nails vividly resembling the familiar comestibles), driven by days of hunger, Jim is hallucinated by a cannibalistic impulse, imagines the tramp as a chicken, lulz and horror are superimposed upon each other in one go. Furthermore, the tramp and Jim will return to the same cabin in the third act and Chaplin sustains an awe-dropping, state-of-the-art balancing act on show with effortless faculty when the cabin is teetering at the edge of a precipice.

In between, the story looks somewhat dated in its conventional route of attaining a paradigm of the American dream, the land of opportunity is open to everyone, and albeit hardship and misfortunes, one can become a multi-billionaire simply by a stroke of luck while papering over all the hardworking it demands and intricacy it encompasses, Chaplin is an echt genius of pioneer filmmaking and an one-of-a-kind slapstick performer, but also a cunning adherer of comedy’s entertaining value and his belief that it is escapism most audience seeks, not earth-shattering illumination.

The slapdash happy ending unfortunately betrays Chaplin’s tactful evasion which keeps the tramp’s misapprehension intact and his idealism unpunctured, from his angle, Georgia (a spirited Hale) and him are bound together by mutual attraction, not his nouveau riche status, a move which gives her a prickly impression of another “gold digger”, her nascent feeling for him, aka. pity love is roundly inundated by the fast-tracking denouement which doesn’t give her any say when a sudden windfall befalls. Will their union go a long way? Chaplin’s own marital records might aptly answer this question.

Be that as it may, on the strength of the tramp’s iconic “roll dance”, copacetic visual effects and umpteen little humorous skits (dancing with a dog’s leash, the hubbub of running away from the gunpoint, the bear attack, and the aforementioned shoe-eating sequence, et al.), THE GOLD RUSH still can be ensconced as a doozy of silent cinema for its sheer vision and technique extraordinaire, plus, this newest restored version is also equipped with a fantastically engaging score by Chaplin himself and Max Terr, just let the fun seep in, bums on seats.

referential entries: Chaplin’s LIMELIGHT (1952, 8.3/10) , MODERN TIMES (1936, 8.0/10).

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