The Gold Rush (1925)

Article 5224 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 8-7-2016
Directed by Charles Chaplin
Featuring Charles Chaplin, Mack Swain, Tom Murray
Country: USA
What it is: Chaplin comedy

The little tramp goes prospecting for gold in the Klondike, and ends up encountering a fellow prospector who had discovered a mountain of gold as well as a dance hall girl with whom he falls in love.

You know, if I had to do this whole movie-watching project over again, I would institute a rating system. This would not be to gauge the quality of the movie, but rather to gauge the degree to which the movie belongs to the fantastic genres which I’m covering. When I began, almost every movie I saw fully belonged to the given genres, but now I find myself frequently encountering movies where the fantastic content is slight or confined to a single scene of the movie. A rating system would have served as a quick, easy indicator of the movie’s status in this regard. In the case of the movie, it’s clearly not a fantasy when taken in its entirety; it’s just for a single scene of the movie, it takes a turn into the fantastic when two starving prospectors are trapped in a cabin during a raging storm, and one begins to hallucinate that the other is a giant chicken; the hallucination is displayed visually. Again, it’s a single scene, but you have a giant animal as well as flirtations with madness and cannibalism.

That being said, I’ve ended up encountering a lot more of Chaplin’s work than I expected I would have (and I have yet to cover the one that most prominently qualifies, which would be MODERN TIMES). However, this one is near and dear to my heart. It is not only the first Chaplin movie I ever saw, but the first silent film as well. Chaplin is in fine form here, and the movie contains several famous sequences. There is the scene where Chaplin is forced to eat his own shoe, the dance performed with potatoes and forks, and the scene where a cabin teeters over the edge of a cliff. I love his work here; I’m especially impressed with how he shows such a grasp of human nature to get us to feel the elation and disappointment when an attractive person of the opposite sex seems to be trying to catch your attention only to discover they’re intending the attention for someone behind you. I think that this still rates as my favorite Chaplin movie.


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