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CHAPLIN COLLECTION: THE GOLD RUSH: DVD

SYNOPSIS:
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:
LIMELIGHT
THE GREAT DICTATOR
MODERN TIMES

THE KID
THE CIRCUS
CITY LIGHTS
MONSIEUR VERDOUX

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CHAPLIN COLLECTION: THE GOLD RUSH: DVD (G)
(US, 1925)

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







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