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The Gold Rush


#317 - The Gold Rush
Charlie Chaplin, 1925



During the Klondike Gold Rush, a lone prospector has some misadventures involving a beautiful woman, a remote log cabin, a dreaded outlaw, and a fellow prospector.

This is the third Charlie Chaplin film I've seen and I'm still inclined not to think of any of them as more than just alright. This one was different in that I watched a restored version where Chaplin himself provided an all-new narration in place of the usual title cards, presumably as a means of updating it for an audience that was rapidly getting used to talking pictures. Admittedly, it does help the movie flow quite a bit, though it does make me wonder how the film would have played out if it'd been the proper silent version, though I suppose if I care that much then I can try watching the silent version on the film's Wikipedia page. Even in this shorter and louder version, The Gold Rush doesn't do all that much for me. Though it's obviously filled with gags, none of them really made me laugh (with the exception of the climatic cabin sequence, which involves some inventive use of editing and special effects that is somewhat undercut by the use of a very fake-looking miniature dummy).

Otherwise, it's pretty standard silent comedy with just enough of a dramatic edge as Chaplin's impoverished protagonist falls for a dance-hall beauty while also having to contend with the harsh climate and dangerous individuals that he comes across while trying to make a fortune. There are the occasional bizarre little flights of fancy to add to the regular comedy, such as Chaplin's friend growing hungry and imagining Chaplin as a giant chicken (which of course involves a chicken suit), but not even the more surreal imagery is enough to make much of a difference one way or the another. The Gold Rush definitely isn't bad enough to make me want to avoid any more Chaplin, but it definitely feels like I'm seeking out his films out of formality more so than out of enjoyment.