"We must get food. One of us must brave that storm."
The film that Chaplin wanted to be remembered for, The Gold Rush, is his most ambitious and adventurous one. Chaplin takes center stage once again and takes us to the snowy mountains of Alaska. Under extremely harsh conditions the tramp struggles to survive, but he always faces life with his innocent naivety and cheerfulness. The Gold Rush is a simple rags to riches story, but somehow the tramp doesn't let his social condition define who he is. He remains the same quirky character no matter the circumstances he faces. In the midst of all the hilarious moments, Chaplin always manages to send an uplifting message to his audience. He reminds us that no matter how difficult the circumstances we are going through are, if we continue to move forward something good is going to come out of it. The Gold Rush might not be his most critically acclaimed film, but it does have some of his most memorable scenes. Without ever having seen this movie I had already seen several clips like the scene where the tramp is preparing a roasted shoe or the scene in which his friend is starving so much that he imagines the tramp as a chicken and chases him. The scenes that take place in the cabin are all hilarious and have inspired many famous cartoon scenes as well. However his most famous and beloved scene involved the dancing rolls which was played over and over again in the theaters were it was played. Perhaps Chaplin is remembered for his work in Modern Times or City Lights, but the scenes in The Gold Rush have passed the test of time and captivated audiences around the world. The good thing about silent films is that they are universally accepted because actions don't need translations.
The Gold Rush takes place in gorgeous Alaska during 1898 as thousands of prospectors faced the harsh conditions in order to find gold and become millionaires. The tramp, who is known in this film as the lone prospector (Charles Chaplin), also heads to Alaska on his own dreaming of becoming wealthy man. After a severe storm hits his area, the tramp locates a small cabin and finds refugee there. But the cabin isn't abandoned, a thief known as Black Larsen (Tom Murray) is hiding there. Before Black Larsen can kick him out of the cabin another large prospector arrives. Big Jim McKay (Mack Swain) uses his size to intimidate Black Larsen and convinces him to allow the three men to stay there until the storm passes. As the days pass the men begin to starve so they decide one of them must face the storm and bring back food. The unlucky fellow isn't the tramp this time as Black Larsen is the chosen one. After a few days the storm passes and the lone prospector decides to head to the nearest gold-rush community where he falls in love with a saloon girl known as Georgia (Georgia Hale) and tries to win her heart.
The best moments of The Gold Rush involve the lone prospector's adventures in the cabin and his misunderstandings with the other large prospectors. The love story however was the weakest link as the girl here really doesn't do anything to deserve the tramp's love. She isn't really likable so I can see how critics at the time were unsatisfied by the ending of this film. The Gold Rush could've been his most critically acclaimed film if it had an ending like City Lights. I think that film gets more recognition because Chaplin learned his lesson and ended that film on a perfect note. There is no discussion however that most of the famous Chaplin scenes come from The Gold Rush. This was Chaplin's longest and most produced film at the time and he succeeds again in blending slapstick with pathos effortlessly. The Gold Rush is a fun adventure with several highlights, but I think a shorter running time for silent films works better. Chaplin still never ceases to lose his charm and his character of the tramp never gets old. I also love the score in all his films, they are just inspiring and uplifting. After watching his third feature film, I must agree that his films are timeless and universal.