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MovieMeditation presents...
total movie count ........... viewing day count
238 .......................... 274


October 1st

—— 1942 ——

—— comedy ——

Dancing bread rolls
and shoe string pasta...

A couple of years ago, Charlie Chaplin made my viewing habits take a turn for the better, when he singlehandedly made me time travel back a few decades and all the way out of the color spectrum to witness the greatness of silent cinema in its prime. I had previously been bestowed with black and white films before Chaplin, but the many muted movies of the past were presently a product of my future. Obviously, I knew who Chaplin was, what he eventually became and which films he helped to inspire, but even if I might have seen some scenes here and there, the eventual deeper dive was one I never took; as an evolving film fanatic I felt like that was a territory terribly embarrassing not to have experienced. With that in mind, I took a cinematic trip through the legendary legacy of the bowler hat bearing, big shoe wearing little tramp – a fellow known for his tiny and later misunderstood mustache (screw you, Hitler), as well as the many curious cane swings he made on his way...

'The Gold Rush' wasn't my first Chaplin and this isn't my first watch either, but since I almost always seek out a movie as it was originally intended, I saw the 1925 cut of the film before the later 1942 version. However, I do tend to choose the directorial definitive version over an otherwise original cut, but something about monologing a silent movie made little sense to me at the time – at least for a first watch of this feature. But an eventual revisit had to happen, which was a great excuse for experiencing Chaplin chatting about Chaplin and his enchanting encounters on a search for gold. Throughout the Chaplin takeover in my home, I kept seeking out more of his works and of course I had heard about the great reputation of 'The Gold Rush'. But unfortunately, I didn't strike gold with my own inspection and the supposedly comedic rush was instead replaced by a greater rush to get it over with. But of course, things weren’t all bad, although I was admittedly a little bit bored and the comedic scenes bothered me rather than benefitted my viewing experience. Some of it was really good and imaginative, but I didn't find it nearly as funny nor heartfelt as some of Chaplin’s other efforts. So will the newer and narrated version win me over?

Chaplin chopped off a good twenty minutes of the film, removing loose subplots and less substantial scenes that wasn't all that relevant to the core plot or the current person of Chaplin himself. In my opinion, Chaplin changed the movie for the better, but I'm not here to tell you how one or the other is terrible or better, I still have deep respect for the original cut and both have a certain charm of their own. But for me, the 1942 version worked wonders and the added narration suited the film to great success. At first I was skeptical, and when the film started I still wasn't quite sure how to feel about it, but as it moved along everything became more interesting and I got even more invested in the story. Somehow almost all the gags worked better this time around and scenes like the iconic table dance sequence and the exciting house tipping set piece were still as wonderful as ever. Also, the shorter length kept the runtime from running out of breath and make me exhausted along the way, which made my interest peak without ever dropping down.

'The Gold Rush' does seem like a golden era for our little fellow, since his character and those around him seem more substantial and authentic than earlier. The ongoing struggle of The Tramp in his search for gold, his exhausting fight for shelter and survival, the horrible table dinner heartbreak, the happy and wealthy change of things and the eventual encounter at the end – everything seem to be coming together nicely here. Chaplin takes his little tramp through a surprisingly elaborate character arc, which takes the tramp out of the trash and into a quality setting. I'm not saying the past was trash, but what came before was Chaplin – admittedly being a genius at it – acting clumsy and getting caught up in countless catastrophes. That said, Chaplin definitely liked to leave audiences with a bit more, but in 'The Gold Rush' I feel like the character really came full circle. Just like his bowler hat, he became a well-rounded character with a nice and fitting curve, eventually ending up on top of things. Charlie Chaplin really did strike gold with this one, but even though it isn't the gold mine I expected, it is still a nice little treasure, which might turn out to have more value in the future… reply value that is.