Saturday, January 23, 2010
A Written Review: Gold Rush
The film The Gold Rush was one of the better silent films I’ve seen. Both the technical and creative aspects of the film meshed extremely well and gave the viewer a great experience.
The cinematography in the film was very good. You could see massive improvements in terms of the look of film then. The film didn’t jump frames like other films such as Intolerance and Way Down East tended to. Also, you could really see elements such as set design, props, and even animal training start to make their mark on the film industry. The scene where Chaplin’s character and Big Jim eat the show sticks out in my mind as one of the more creative prop designs I’ve seen in a silent film. Also, the scene where the house teeters on the edge of the cliff was absolutely amazing and I still wish I could figure out how that gag was done.
Also, Gold Rush really highlighted the absolutely pathetic state that slap-stick comedy is in now-a-days. Back in the silent and golden era of film it took talent to do slap-stick. Scenes such as the wind scene in Gold Rush or “Make ‘Em Laugh” in Singing In The Rain make the crotch smacking, head banging, and floor slipping antics of the modern era just seem like toddler piano recitals next to professional orchestras. One would have thought that filmmakers would have tried to better perfect this genuinely funny art form. I remember a time when I seriously thought that slap-stick was a very immature type of comedy but as I explored the masters of slap-stick, such as Chaplin, I suddenly realized that it’s merely our 21st century version of slap-stick that is childish.
Another thing must be said of the acting in Gold Rush. I found that even more often than the various physical gags, Chaplin’s expression was what made me laugh hysterically. Chaplin was one of the king’s of dead pan, up there with the masters of the art such as John Cleese and Bill Murray (or more appropriately they belong in that category with him). I remember the first time I laughed out loud at this film was when Chaplin set his walking stick into the snow and fell down to his shoulder and then quickly tried to recover himself. While the gag itself was hilariously funny, Chaplin’s reactions were what made it an amazingly brilliant shot.
All-in-all this film is historically important because you can see how Chaplin began to really refine the art of comedy. Many of the building blocks to the average comedic film we see in our modern-era were beginning to be developed and refined in this movie (and all of Chaplin’s work).