Thursday, June 8, 2006

The Gold Rush Redux

Saturday June 10, 11:00am The Egyptian

This review is for the 1942 re-release version of The Gold Rush.


What a disappointment! For the 1942 release of this film, Chaplin trimmed 14 minutes out of the film, added a new score, and replaced the original intertitles with his own voiced over narration which sounds like Uncle Charlie telling a fairytale. The print was then processed at the wrong speed causing some of the action to look sped up (for more on silent film speeds see // The result? A masterpiece reduced to a charming and funny children's film. This version may have been an appropriate, but still not the better choice, for inclusion in the films4families programming at SIFF. However, after the care shown in selecting the other silent film prints for the archival programming, it is a letdown. The benefit of having the Chaplin written score did not outweigh the above-mentioned drawbacks to the re-release print.
Bottom line, if you have children I can recommend taking them. However, if you want to see why The Gold Rush is a masterpiece rent the Warner Brother's Chaplin Collection and watch the original version which is on the second disc. Chaplin fans might want to see the re-release at SIFF to do their own comparison.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with everything you've said. After seeing this again the other night and thinking about it I have come to a few other conclusions. Your observation regarding the difference between this film and the two earlier silent films is right on the money. Your observation that the updated version would appeal to children is also very astute, since there is no reading required as there would be with titles. I also realized all the comedy routines or 'set pieces' remain intact, which I am sure Chaplin saw as the primary focus. Again with children's consideration first, the romantic elements might be lost or unappreciated by a younger audience. I've also read there was 'second camera' footage in the update not used in the original and thought I noticed some subtle differences. I will at some point go through both versions simultaneously, frame by frame, to confirm the changes. The scene in the cabin with Georgia and Jack and the scene with the note are particularly suspect. The whole premise of the latter scene is changed. Georgia originally writes the note to Jack and 'he' gives it to Charlie as a trick. In the re-issue Georgia intentionally writes the note to Charlie. I think I'll relent and go to the Saturday show for the audience. Even though my earlier comments regarding SIFF and their choice are rather harsh, I've got to stand by them. The Circus was packed last year when it was screened at the Neptune. I noticed quite a few empty seats Thursday night. That may actually indicate I've criticized the audience who realized the difference when the programming folks did not. Wouldn't it be great if SIFF asked for member input in the future?