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The Gold Rush(1925)
The Tramp goes the Klondike in search of gold and finds it and more.
For more about The Gold Rush and The Gold Rush Blu-ray release, see The Gold Rush Blu-ray Review
Starring: Charles Chaplin, Georgia Hale
Director: Charles Chaplin
» See full cast & crew
The Gold Rush Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, May 19, 2012
Charlie Chaplin's "The Gold Rush" arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion. The disc contains the preferred by Chaplin newly restored 1942 version of the film as well as a new reconstruction of the silent 1925 original version, with a soundtrack by Timothy Brock. The supplemental features include European trailers for the film; exclusive video interview with Timothy Brock; new audio commentary with Chaplin biographer Jeffrey Vance; new program tracing the film's history from its original release to the rerelease and reconstruction; short documentary film featuring filmmaker Idrissa Ouedraogo; and more. The disc also arrives with an illustrated booklet featuring an essay by film critic Luc Sante and James Agree's review of the 1942 version. In English, with optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature. Region-A "locked".
The early days of the Klondike gold rush, 1898. The Tramp is an ambitious prospector wandering around the snowy hills of Alaska, trying to figure out which way to go. Cold and tired, he ends up at the remote cabin of a man with a price on his head, Black Larsen (Tom Murray), who immediately kicks him out. Fortunately for the Tramp, there is a strong blizzard that literally blows him back into the cabin.
Meanwhile, a new prospector, Big Jim (Mack Swain), who has found gold, appears. Like the Tramp, he is cold, tired, and looking for a place to spend the night. Black Larsen attempts to kick him out too, but Big Jim proves stronger. The Tramp, Big Jim and Black Larsen decide to share the cabin until the weather gets better.
Soon, the prospectors agree that one of them must go out and find food. They draw cards and Black Larsen gets the lowest one. While wandering around, he meets and kills two policemen. Later on, Black Larsen stumbles upon Big Jim's gold stash, which he decides to keep.
Back in the cabin, Big Jim begins hallucinating - his brains tells him that the Tramp as a giant chicken, which he attempts to kill. The Tramp quickly realizes that the most effective way to help Big Jim get rid of the hallucinations is a strong meal - which is why he cooks one of his shoes and serves it to him. Eventually, the weather improves, and the Tramp and Big Jim part ways. Big Jim goes back to his gold stash, but out of nowhere Black Larsen appears and hits him with a shovel, causing him to lose his memory. Black Larsen escapes with a load of Big Jim's gold but dies in an avalanche.
The Tramp ends in a town full of gold diggers. He befriends a mining engineer who allows him to stay in his cabin while he is away on business. While wandering around, the Tramp ends up in the town's saloon where he sees Georgia (Georgia Hale), a beautiful dancer; he instantly falls in love with her. Georgia is unaware of the Tramp's existence until an obnoxious bully, Jack, tries to force her to dance with him. The Tramp confronts the bully and earns Georgia's respect. Later on, Georgia and her girlfriends visit the cabin where the Tramp lives and promise to celebrate New Year's Eve with him. For the next couple of days, the Tramp works hard to save enough money to buy food and presents for Georgia and her friends. On New Year's Eve, however, he ends up being alone.
Big Jim reappears looking for the Tramp. When they meet, he tells the Tramp that if he takes him back to his cabin he will make him a rich man. The two embark on a treacherous journey and nearly lose their lives but manage to find Big Jim's gold. The Tramp and Big Jim become millionaires. On the ship that will take them back home to the land of milk and honey, the Tramp once again meets Georgia.
Written and directed by Charlie Chaplin, The Gold Rush has had a number of different reincarnations – the original silent version (99 min) (1925); the preferred by Chaplin American rerelease version, which is the version included on this Blu-ray disc (72 min) (1942); as well as an edited American version (81 min) (1925).
The rerelease version is also narrated by Chaplin. The overwhelming majority of the lines the legendary actor utters are short descriptions of the conversations the Tramp has with various characters. They are appropriate for some scenes but not all. More often than not, Chaplin and Max Terr's wonderful music score is a lot more illuminating than the narration.
The Gold Rush contains some of the funniest scenes Chaplin did throughout his career. Yet it remains one of his saddest films - effectively showing the corrosive effects greed could have on people's lives and personalities.
In 1943, the rerelease version of The Golden Rush earned Oscar nominations for Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture (Max Terr) and Best Sound, Recording (James L. Fields).
The Gold Rush Blu-ray, Video Quality
The screencaptures included with our review appear in the following order:
1. 1925 version: 1-20.
2. 1942 version: 21-39.
1925 version (89 minutes, 1080p):
The following statement by Kevin Brownlow and David Gill appears before the film: "The Gold Rush was released in 1925. Chaplin reissued it with synchronized music and narration in 1942. He removed all the titles, rearranged some sequences and discarded several scenes. The original 1925 version disappeared. But a 35mm copy had been made by a private collector. By using this together with the 1942 reissue, and three fragments preserved by the National Film and Television Archive, it has been possible to reconstruct the film almost exactly as Chaplin first released it. The picture quality varies considerably between the different sources. The subtitles have been remade with the original wording. This is an opportunity to see Chaplin's masterpiece close to its original form, but it should still be regarded as 'work in progress'.
This new digital restoration of the original 1925 version of The Gold Rush by Cineteca di Bologna at L'immagine Ritrovata and Criterion is far more impressive than the restoration for the preferred by Chaplin 1942 version of the film, which two years ago MK2 licensed to British distributors Park Circus. Despite various clarity fluctuations, it looks far better balanced, with a number of close-ups also conveying a much more stable grain structure (see screencapture #4). The best news, however, is that the mild sharpening that pops up on the 1942 version is practically eliminated here. As a result, depth and fluidity are substantially improved, giving the film a much more convincing organic look (see screencapture #17). Color balance is also improved. To sum it all up, I think that this new restoration and reconstruction of the 1925 version of the film looks far more appealing in high-definition than the 1942 version. (Note: A restored 1925 version of The Gold Rush was also included on the Park Circus release of the film, but only on a separate PAL-encoded DVD. Also, on the Park Circus DVD the 1925 restoration runs at approximately 96 minutes, while on the Criterion release the new restoration runs at approximately 89 minutes).
1942 version (72 minutes, 1080p):
There are no sizable discrepancies between Criterion's high-definition transfer and the one Park Circus used for their Blu-ray release of Chaplin's film in the UK. Contrast levels are slightly toned down and compression is better, while color reproduction is slightly more convincing, with the blacks being possibly better saturated. However, detail and clarity are practically identical. The mild sharpening noticeable on the Park Circus release has also been retained. I still like this restoration quite a lot as it represents a major upgrade in quality over the R1 DVD release of The Gold Rush which Warner Brothers produced, but I think that the new restoration for the 1925 version of Chaplin's film is clearly superior. (Note: This is a Region-A "locked" Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you must have a native Region-A or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
The Gold Rush Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There are two standard audio tracks on this Blu-ray disc: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track, for the 1925 version of The Gold Rush, and English LPCM 1.0 track, for the 1942 version of the film. For the record, Criterion have provided optional English SDH subtitles for 1942 version.
The new restoration and reconstruction of the 1925 version of The Gold Rush features a 2007 score by composer Timothy Brock, based on Chaplin's score for the 1942 rerelease. The English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track handles the score very well - the strings sound notably rich and lush while the woodwinds blend well with them but are still easy to recognize. The flute solos in particular are wonderful. For the record, there are no audio dropouts or distortions to report in this review. The English LPCM 1.0 has a limited dynamic amplitude, but this should not be surprising. The narration is crisp and stable.
The Gold Rush Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Gold Rush Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The inclusion of the new restoration and reconstruction of the 1925 version of The Gold Rush in high-definition makes Criterion's Blu-ray release a clear winner. I personally prefer the 1925 version of the film over the definitive 1942 version and could not be any more pleased with its new digital restoration by Cineteca di Bologna at L'immagine Ritrovata and Criterion. It looks great. As expected, the disc also contains plenty of supplemental material, including a very interesting new interview with composer and conductor Timothy Brock. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
The Gold Rush Blu-ray, News and Updates
• The Making of Charlie Chaplin's The Gold Rush - June 14, 2012
In 1925, Charlie Chaplin released what is considered one of his best films that has remained an all-time favorite among fans, "The Gold Rush." It was reissued in 1942 with Chaplin doing his own editing, adding a new music score. Available for the first time on ...
• Criterion Blu-ray in June: Chaplin, Ashby, Boyle, Soderbergh, Hit... - March 16, 2012
After much speculation, the Criterion Collection has posted their full roster of Blu-ray releases for June 2012. Titles include Charlie Chaplin's The Gold Rush, Danny Boyle's Shallow Grave, Steven Soderbergh's Gray's Anatomy & And Everything Is Going Fine, Alfred ...
The Gold Rush Blu-ray Screenshots
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