Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Gold Rush - Charles Chaplin

How far is tragedy from ridiculousness? Throughout his entire career, Chaplin showed that they are not very far away from each other. Most of the times, he succeeded in enjoying and making people enjoy the funny side of sad things. Only once he regreted that: after World War II, he stated that had he known the true conditions in Nazi Germany, he would never have filmed The Great Dictator.

Far from the disaster of Nazism, The Gold Rush is based on the true story of a group of gold miners who starved at such point that they had to eat their own shoes and incurred in cannibalism. You obviously have to be a genious to make a funny story out of that. As Wikipedia and other chronicles say, Chaplin said this was the movie for which he wanted to be remembered. The New York Times' chronicle at the time (1925) is an eloquent praise.

There are three reasons why this movie is still worth watching:

  1. At a time when filming is understood as an exercise of big budgets and mind-boggling special effects, The Gold Rush is a reminder that ingeniosity is all a film-maker needs to make cool things happen.
  2. You do see Chaplin at his best. The Great Dictator is too political and there are so many direct or indirect remakes of Modern Times, that it is no longer surpising.
  3. Obviously, this scene:

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