It always surprises me when I can get away with making a Chaplin reference to friends or when I see them dressed as his Tramp character for Halloween. More often than not, my friends haven’t seen his films, but they know of him- the mustache, his duck walk, complete with bamboo cane and bowler hat. I’m lucky if any of them (outside of the film buff bubble) have seen him in any of his short films either.
If you fall into the category of “never seen a Chaplin film,” then consider tonight your night to trek out to the Brattle Theatre and catch one of his best.
THE GOLD RUSH follows Chaplin’s iconic Tramp character to the heyday of the Klondike Gold Rush. He’ll find competitive prospectors and perhaps a love interest, but first the Tramp will have to survive the treacherous snow storms and hunger pains in order to strike gold. It paints a pretty bleak picture of this chapter in our nation’s history, but in true Chaplin style, he takes in suffering with plenty of humor.
We don’t weep for him in THE GOLD RUSH in the same way we might for the THE KID or THE CIRCUS. Neither does this love story feel as deep as the ones in CITY LIGHTS or MODERN TIMES. And the political messages often seen in various other films are not as apparent in THE GOLD RUSH. The government is mostly absent in the frozen wilderness, so the strife the Tramp runs into comes mostly from the weather and the tough crowd that set up the mining town.
Chaplin’s creative gags set this film apart from others in his canon. Although a few of the jokes have not aged as well (for example, the chicken suit dream sequence), there are several memorable ones that can be found in recent movies. For instance, the famous dancing bread sequence Chaplin does at a dinner party to entertain his guests was redone by Johnny Depp for the movie BENNY AND JOON and by Amy Adams in last year’s THE MUPPETS.
Chaplin stuck gold with THE GOLD RUSH: it became the highest grossing comedy of the silent era. He claimed it as the film he wanted to be most remembered for. It’s a movie that for many people may seem oddly familiar: its images have been reprinted in movie and history books for decades. But for the chance to see it newly restored on the big screen? To me, that’s well worth the rush. – Monica Castillo
THE GOLD RUSH screens tonight, 6/27, at 8:00 PM. The Brattle Theatre, 40 Brattle Street, Cambridge MA. 02138