Analysis by Kaitie Truman
The Gold Rush made in 1925 a true comedy, starring Charlie Chaplin as “The Tramp”. In the movie Charlie Chaplin’s character sets out to the Yukon Gold Rush in hopes of striking it rich. However, his riches don’t come as quickly as he hoped they would. Through his journey he faces starvation, a near death, and finds a love interest. On his journey he stays with two other prospectors, Black Larsen and Big Jim. Black Larsen decides to leave the two for dead and set out on his own journey for gold but faces a cruel fate. Charlie Chaplin continues on his journey for gold but his main conflict is trying to win a girl’s heart. The girl he is after however, chooses to have fun with others instead of letting Chaplin try for her heart. Until one day…
I thoroughly enjoyed this movie, but that maybe due to the fact that I am a huge Chaplin fan. I loved the little humorous situations he put himself into as he took the seriousness of the situation out. As director, Charlie Chaplin was able to give himself artistic freedom to express himself however he wanted to in this movie. In every scene he was able to make the audience laugh through simple gestures. He used special effects that were ahead of his time that enhanced the films quality and made it more enjoyable for the audience. I didn’t like the fact that the scenes were all stationary shots. To me it seemed like it took away from the overall affect that I believe Chaplin was trying to convey in his scenes and over film. My favorite scene was his infamous “dancing dinner rolls” routine. Later this will become one of the scenes Chaplin will be most remembered for. It showed his character’s innocence and playful nature in the film. The acting for the most part was superb. There weren’t a lot of actors in the movie so the audience could pinpoint some key characteristics in each of them. Maybe even identify themselves with one of the characters. The story had a tendency to jump around without a lot of connections until the end. The ending was a cliffhanger and left a lot of strings untied. In the film the music was of low quality. It seemed to be very repetitive and quite choppy. When transitioning to a new scene or a new track of music the music doesn’t transition with it, it just stops and goes to the new music track. This becomes a nuisance throughout the movie. The shot compositions seem to be unchanging throughout the movie. Every shot seems to be stationary. The camera is most likely on a tripod in nearly every scene. Lighting could have been better. A lot of the time the actor’s faces were too white to see their eyes because of incorrect lighting. In one of the scenes there is a close-up shot of a letter to Chaplin but due to poor lighting it is nearly impossible to make out what is written. If the quality of lighting was enhanced it would greatly improve the composition of the film. However, even without correct lighting, I feel that the films effectiveness to convey humor to the audience was accomplished.
According to Rottentomatoes.com, “The Gold Rush is a distinct triumph for Charlie Chaplin from both the artistic and commercial standpoints, and is a picture certain to create a veritable riot at theatre box offices,” I thoroughly agree with them. Chaplin expresses his artistic freedom because of his position as director. Chaplin used different effects that audiences weren’t used to in order to be different from the other movies during his time. He does a slow transformation of himself into a giant chicken to convey that the other man is starving. The effects he used to do this were advanced for his time and there is still complications trying to do this today.
I would recommend this film to a mature audience rather than an adolescent audience. I do not doubt my peer’s knowledge or awareness but I don’t believe that they would fully grasp what the film is trying to convey due to the silent aspect of it. The fact that the filming is a constant composition and that the music is repetitive people may lose interest quickly and become bored with the movie. Chaplin was true visionary and he wanted to be remembered in this film.