The Gold Rush

March 20, 2012 1 Comment

“The Gold Rush” is one of those classic films I felt I must have seen…after all,  Chaplin’s 1925 masterpiece (at least the film HE hoped to be remembered for) seemed so familiar.  I could of course instantly recognize The Tramp and had seen pieces of the film numerous times (the famous shoe-eating scene that must have sparked Herzog’s own shoe-devouring doc and the dance of the breadrolls were well stored in my head).  After viewing the wonderfully restored 1925 version at the Detroit Film Theatre this weekend, I knew I never had the opportunity to experience the entire film….the mixture of comedy and cannabalism (again borrowed decades later by filmmakers like Trey Parker and Matt Stone) was edgy and surreal (hallucinatory experiences of a giant dancing chicken!).  Chaplin possessed the ability to interweave comedy and pathos with subtle gestures and facial expression….a fact that those who have already seen the film (as well as his other masterpieces such as City Lights) already know but that I was lucky enough to share with the DFT audience last Sunday.

Chaplin was the  first filmmaker to earn a million dollars a year and the first actor to grace the cover of Time Magazine.  The film cost over one million dollars to make and took an unprecedented 17 months to film.  Chaplin himself tinkered with the film in 1942 (deleting scenes, removing placards and providing his own musical score and audio voice over).  This new print is a restoration to the 1925 version…the experts can debate the pros and cons of each.    The Rotten Tomatoes Website has a 1925 New York Times review of the premier of  Gold Rush that transported me back to that opening night…nearly 90 years ago….to share in the interaction of the  36 year old star/director with his wildly adoring audience.

The Gold Rush will screen this weekend at the DFT on March 23,24 at 9;45pm and March 25 at 4:45pm…As a bonus (as if it is needed!)  there is a musically scored, weirdly colorized print of Melies “Trip to the Moon”……delightful….pass the shoe…er, popcorn!……..Jolyn Wagne

DFT Presents, Must See Movie of the Week
One Comment to “The Gold Rush”
  1. Bruce Russell says:

    I watched The Gold Rush at the Sunday matinee. There were children in the audience, and they laughed hysterically at the physical comedy in the film. So did the adults.

    Is there a lesson in the film? Charlie Chaplin’s character is bullied, made fun of, and laughed at behind his back. But he is very sweet, and he is head-over-heels in love with Gloria. Chaplin finally gets the girl. Does this mean that nice guys finish first, contra Leo Durocher? Not without a lot of luck! A house has to be blown by the wind to the edge of a precipice, which just happens to be next to Big Jim’s lost gold mine, and Chaplin has to stumble backwards and fall down some stairs on a ship to ultimately unite with Gloria. And how did his path to Gloria begin? By his going out in Alaskan wilderness wearing a suit coat and a bowler hat, carrying a cane, with only a shovel and a pick, to prospect for gold. Sometimes we absurdly go looking for something and then luckily find something of even greater value in a place, and a way, that we would never have expected…of course,after many pratfalls!

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