CHAPLIN COLLECTION: THE GOLD RUSH: DVD
The Tramp finds himself in the Klondike amidst the gold rush with thousands of others,
searching for gold, and loveÖ. and, when snowstorms set in, for food.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Considering Chaplinís illicit affair with the 16 year old girl he cast in the film
and then got pregnant, it is striking how The Gold Rush is awash with innocent comedy. The
impact of many of the scenes of physical humour can no longer be properly appreciated, in
todayís cinematic context, but they still impress.
Unforgettable moments include the log cabin on the edge of the precipice that see saws as
the gold prospector tramp and his fellow camper fight for survival in the aftermath of a
snowstorm. Notably, this comedic concept of danger doesnít stop at the vagaries of
nature. Chaplin harnesses the notion of hunger as a trigger for comedy, and to do that
effectively in 1925 takes creative confidence.
Indeed, the basic premise for the filmís setting is drawn from life, and triggered by
a shot of real prospectors lining up on the Klondike by the thousands, seeking the elusive
touch of good fortune.
This release is part of the Chaplin Collection, comprising four films in the first batch,
and further packages to come in 2004. Itís been a long time coming (I was at the
press conference in Cannes at the 2001 festival when Warner Bros and MK2 announced the
details, in the presence of Geraldine Chaplin) and itís a thrilling reminder of the
power of technology in the service of the arts. Cinemaís first genius, as heís
dubbed by Variety, has been resurrected for future generations to appreciate.
Spoiling all this celebratory hoopla is the appalling handling of the release material to
the media in Australia; I hasten to add this is not the fault of the local Warners office,
but the European DVD operators who have mucked up the early pressings so badly that
everyone here is tearing their hair out. In silent version, of course.
When I finally received my second batch of discs just before release (to replace the
incorrect discs), my sense of anticipation and relief evaporated when the new discs
replicated the difficulties of the first batch. But I did finally manage to take a look at
the 1942 re-cut version, with the new, fuller orchestrations plus Chaplinís own
narration. I canít say either of the additions makes the film better. I prefer the
original, with its simpler use of music; as for narration, itís telling us nothing we
canít see for ourselves, and often the articulating of what is on screen actually
diminishes the impact of the film. Our mental narration does a better job Ė more
subtle, supple and complex.
Published December 4, 2003
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THE CHAPLIN COLLECTION:
THE GREAT DICTATOR
BUY IT HERE
CHAPLIN COLLECTION: THE GOLD RUSH: DVD (G)
CAST: Charlie Chaplin, Mick Swain, Tom Murray, Georgia Hale, Malcolm Waite
DIRECTOR: Charlie Chaplin
SCRIPT: Charlie Chaplin
RUNNING TIME: 96 minutes
PRESENTATION: B/W; 1.33:1 (4:3 full frame transfer); DD 2.0 & 5.1 (remastered)
SPECIAL FEATURES: Disc one: The Gold Rush (1942 version, 20 minutes cut and narration added; digitally remastered and restored). Disc Two: The Gold Rush (original 1925 version) Introduction by David Robinson; Chaplin Today documentary (includes interview with Lita Grey Chaplin and Georgia Hale); trailers, original scenario.
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Warner Home Video
DVD RELEASE: December 3, 2003