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The Gold Rush: The Chaplin Collection

Review Written by: Estefan Ellison
Film: A+
Video/Audio/Extras: C/B/B+

Directed by: Charles Chaplin
Written by: Charles Chaplin
Produced by: Charles Chaplin
Starring: Charles Chaplin, Mack Swain, Tom Murray, Georgia Hale, Malcolm Waite, Henry Bergman, Kay Deslys
Buy it!, Buy it, rent it or skip it: Buy it!

I feel very sorry for people who think that any films that is either a) in black and white or b) without sound is boring and a waste of time. The reason why I feel sorry for these people is because they are missing out some truly remarkable films. I'm one of the rare people at my academy, who actually thinks that black-and-white looks so much more interesting than colour. If you think about it, black and white films are like books, because the person responsible allows you to give your own interpretation and makes you think about what colour every object is. It is just like when you imagine in your head what a scene in a book looks like. I think that films like Orson Welle's Citizen Kane, Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List and Charlie Chaplin's The Gold Rush would not have had the same impact if they were in colour.

Set during the time of the Yukon gold rush, many dreamers set out into the frigid cold to look for some gold and even more wealth than they could possibly imagine. Two, the Lone Prospector (Charles Chaplin) and Big Jim McKay (Mack Swain), meet up by accident and soon become best friends. When they both wonder on their own ways, they encounter different discoveries. Big Jim finds a mountain of gold, but is soon given amnesia and can't remember where it is. Meanwhile, The Lone Prospector finds the love of his life (Georgia Hale) and by throwing a New Years party in her name, he has her falling deeper and deeper in love with him, even though she doesn't really attend.

The Gold Rush was the first Charlie Chaplin film that I had ever seen and I was quickly hooked on him. After that, I went and got all his films and watched them laughing out loud. This film stands as his second best film (behind the almighty Modern Times) and is absolutely a joy to watch. Some of my personal favourite moments are when Big Jim hallucinates The Lone Prospector turning into a giant chicken and when The Lone Prospector is almost shot. Of course, who can forget the infamous scene where Chaplin sticks two forks into two buns and makes them dance? That's right. Nobody. It's such an all-around important scene that can't be forgotten. The Gold Rush simply offers a lot of laughs per minute with wonderfully directed gags. It is surprising due to the 80-year-plus age of the film that the transfer isn't that good. Warner could peaked it up a bit, but I can forgive due to how old The Gold Rush is. Now, this DVD set includes two versions of the film. On Disc One is the 1942 re-release with a narration by Chaplin. On Disc Two is the original 1925 version with additional piano music. Many Chaplin fans seem to despise the 1942 edition of the film, but I don't mind because it is just as hilarious with or without sound. Though, I agree that the the 1925 film is the superior version, since it includes an important scene that Chaplin cut when working on the re-release.

All the extras appear on Disc Two, starting with an introduction by Chaplin biographer David Robinson. He explains the troubles that Chaplin had while making the film as well as how he constructed some scenes. I always like his introduction and this one, like others, are really good. The "Chaplin Today" documentary provides even more information and talks to an African filmmaker. It's a great half-hour piece. One warning about the translation, though: If you choose to watch in subtitles, be careful, because it doesn't reflect what the translator is saying. Worldwide film posters of The Gold Rush as well as behind-the-scenes photographs appear next. We are even treated to pictures of a real-life Alaskan gold rush. The disc ends with clips from different Charlie Chaplin films. I find that these extras are hard to grade, because we do get the two versions of the film, but the extras aren't as informative as the other Chaplin discs. I will give the extras a "B+" grade, nonetheless. Trust me when I say that this DVD is worth buying.

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