After the box-office failure of his first dramatic film, A Woman of Paris, Charlie Chaplin brooded over his ensuing comedy. "The next film must be an epic!" he recalled in his autobiography. "The greatest!" He found inspir... more »ation, paradoxically, in stories of the backbreaking Alaskan gold rush and the cannibalistic Donner Party. These tales of tragedy and endurance provided Chaplin with a rich vein of comic possibilities. The Little Tramp finds himself in the Yukon, along with a swarm of prospectors heading over Chilkoot Pass (an amazing sight restaged by Chaplin in his opening scenes, filmed in the snowy Sierra Nevadas). When the Tramp is trapped in a mountain cabin with two other fortune hunters, Chaplin stages a veritable ballet of starvation, culminating in the cooking of a leathery boot. Back in town, the Tramp is smitten by a dance-hall girl (Georgia Hale), but it seems impossible that she could ever notice him. The Gold Rush is one of Chaplin's simplest, loveliest features; and despite its high comedy, it never strays far from Chaplin's keen grasp of loneliness. In 1942, Chaplin reedited the film and added music and his own narration for a successful rerelease. --Robert Horton« less
"Gold Rush is a one of the best movies ever so unless you really dislike silent movies, it's a must see. Anyway, all my complaining that follows has to do with the this particular transfer to DVD. The DVD is simply awful. Don't get it. The contrast is so messed up that almost everything in the picture is either completely black or completely white. Needless to say, a lot of information is lost. A while ago I have seen a cleaned up version of the film that was excellent so I know that it makes sense to wait for someone to do better job of transfer to DVD."
Superior look, inferior version
M. Winelid | 05/21/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Sometimes returning to a film and updating it for whatever reasons can almost ruin the original experience the film created (see Star Wars). That, unfortunately, is the case here. The Gold Rush in its original form is one of the greatest films--silent or otherwise--ever made. This DVD release, however, is of Chaplin's 1942 revision of his film. In this version, Chaplin has removed all the title cards and, in their place, inserted his own commentary and music. The commentary is manic, eccentric, and annoying--distracting enough to overshadow whatever visual humor there is. His music, likewise, is overly-cloying, sentimental, and cliched. Oh, and the ending is different: Chaplin merely walks off with the heroine, instead of kissing her and playfully waving off the camera as he does in the original version. The Chaplin Estate has released this version, probably because Chaplin saw it as definitive. Don't believe it for a second! If only someone could convince his estate to release the earlier version, then all us Chaplin fanatics could sleep better at night. One thing I can say for this release: the picture quality is fantastic! I never thought The Gold Rush could look so clear--it's almost like watching a different film. There's also an interesting interview with Lita Grey Chaplin, Chaplin's second wife, about life with Chaplin. Overall, though, a disappointing release of a truly great film. Don't mess with perfection!"
Wrong version, Image DVD!
M. Winelid | Stockholm Sweden | 05/25/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I cannot agree more with "A viewer from Dallas, TX" -- this 1942 version lessens the whole "Gold Rush" experience, even though the video quality is astounding. Having just watched "The Kid" and "City Lights", I found the commentary on this version most annoying and distracting from Chaplin's fantastic pantomime. While in the other films one becomes engrossed in the visual elements, in this version of the film it is impossible to become fully involved, as the commentary actually distances you from what is going on. It would be such a grave mistake if this version would be the only one available for today's audiences, so I urge and plead: Image, please release the original 1925 version on DVD too, please!"
"Three days from anywhere. A lone prospector."
Andrew McCaffrey | Satellite of Love, Maryland | 07/25/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Surprise came to this reviewer when he realized that the main feature on this DVD is the 1942 re-issue version of THE GOLD RUSH (with added music, narration, and sound effects) rather than the 1925 silent original. Fortunately, the silent version is available on the second disc as an extra. Seems like an odd decision to make though; I would have reversed that, as I much prefer the original. For one thing, the title cards are much more lyrically impressive than the rather strained narration. Pictures speak louder than words, and the images Chaplin created on the soundstage simply don't need a voice-over. And the rather drastic cuts (the original film runs 96 minutes, the later clocks in at 69) leave out a lot of good stuff. Still, both versions are included anyway, so I can't complain too loudly.
I watched a battered old VHS copy of this film many, many times as a child in the 1980s. It was a delight to get this film on DVD, not just for the impressive extras, but to have the picture looking crisper than ever. While I'll admit to preferring the musical score they used on that VHS release, the stunning restoration work more than makes up for it. Jokes that I had missed because of the fuzzy picture were suddenly revealed to me (I had never realized that the building that Chaplin inadvertently covers with snow is the town's jail). And although this has nothing to do with the picture quality (though it does come from seeing scenes that had been cut from my VHS copy) I also never really noticed how awful Georgia is to the tramp. Sure, she's a bit regretful about her pranks, but she never really apologizes or makes up for her behavior. I wonder if that was part of Chaplin's decision to modify the happy ending.
Watching this film for the first time as a child, I'll admit that it didn't quite live up to all of my expectations. But while I'm not sure that I'd place this as Chaplin's best films, it's still pretty damn good. His comedy is, of course, excellent -- well conceived and extraordinarily executed. Yet his directing is also worthy of mention. I love they way he lets the camera linger. Look at the pan across the faces of the partygoers at the New Years bash inter-cut with the shots of the lonely tramp. It's difficult for a director to accomplish this without being corny, but Chaplin pulls it off successfully.
THE GOLD RUSH is a film made up of several now-famous set pieces. Most of the sequences are now so ubiquitous that people would recognize them even if they'd never seen a silent film before. The movie's successes are too numerous to mention. The dance of the dinner rolls, the Thanksgiving shoe, the cabin on the edge of the clip. These are all unforgettable scenes that deserve more than to be simply listed in an on-line review; they deserve to be watched by everyone. The "Chaplin Today - The Gold Rush" documentary (quite good overall) shows a room full of young school children enjoying this film for the first time. They laugh at all the right places and stay glued to the screen throughout. Chaplin still has it. "
Five stars, please!
M. Winelid | 09/03/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Amazons "average customers review" of 4 stars is an average for 3 DIFFERENT editions of this great, GREAT film:
1) A very poor, Public Domain reprint of the 1925 edition from Digital Disc Entertainment; got around 2 stars.
2) A fine reprint of the 1942 edition from Image. All complaints about this DVD were about the missing of the 1925 edition.
3) This ultimate edition from Warner and MK2. Disc 1 include the 1942 edition, disc 2 include the 1925 edition and a lot of extra material. Both versions are restored and of surprisingly high quality!
This edition surely deserve FIVE STARS. Please DON'T include the ratings for other editions!"