Gold Rush, the

Poster
1925
Charlie Chaplin

9/10 (bitchy leading lady)

This is perhaps the most famous Chaplin film, and the one that he hoped most to be remembered for. The story follows the Tramp as he heads to Alaska to get rich in the Klondike Gold Rush, where of course it doesn’t quite work out so easily. There are many memorable set pieces, and while I can’t be sure I would guess that these sequences have had a huge influence on pop culture, and especially cartoons. There is the blizzard sequence where the wind continually blows them out of the cabin. Later on there is the cabin fever sequence, where Chaplin eats a boiled boot (made of licorice in real life), and his companion imagines him as a giant chicken. Later on the cabin has been swept to a precipice and balances on the edge with the Tramp and his companion scrambling to counterbalance it. And most famous of all (probably thanks to Johnny Depp in “Benny & Joon”) is the roll dance, where Chaplin sticks forks into two rolls and does a table-top dance that is simply stunning (and incidentally, that puts Johnny Depp’s version to shame).

I didn’t like the love story in this film, mainly because the love interest was a huge bitch to the Tramp, who never stopped with his sweet devotion. Then once he gets rich, of course, they end up together. I understand that in the 1942 re-release, Chaplin edited the film to make her less of a bitch. Either way, if you don’t see this film you will be a worse human being for it.

The following goes for all Chaplin films that will appear here. I am ashamed that it took me as long as it did to begin watching his films and appreciate him as an artist. The first movies of his that I viewed, I literally sat slack-jawed as I watched. Nothing I had seen of modern entertainers prepared me for the virtuosity of this one man. Nothing we have nowadays even approaches the level of talent that he (and IMO to a lesser extent Buster Keaton) displayed. He was an artist in the true sense of the word. Just think: the amount of talent necessary to write, direct, choreograph, invent, compose music for, and act in all of these productions staggers the imagination. Just look at the list in that last sentence. HE DID ALL OF THOSE THINGS BY HIMSELF, FOR LIKE 30 YEARS, WITH MORE THAN 20 MOVIES! I consider him on the same level as Shakespeare, Mozart and Dante for what he has done with the arts. Who living even approaches the shadow that Chaplin cast in terms of all-around entertainment value? I defy you to name even one person.

It pisses me off that he’s not better appreciated nowadays.

18 March 2010

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