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.
on September 3, 2003
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!
on June 23, 2012
This has been a long time coming but we now finally have Chaplin's 1925 original release in a form that does justice to what many feel is his masterpiece. Kevin Brownlow and the late David Gill have worked many years on gathering the material from archives and collectors that would allow for a decent reconstruction of THE GOLD RUSH as it was originally shown. In 1942 Chaplin prepared a sound release in which he removed the titles, added a delightful narration that he spoke himself (at least in the English language release) and composed a music score that is perfect for the film. In doing so he went back to his vaults and chose different takes that played better at the 24fps sound speed. In the process the original 1925 negative was partly used and the sound version became the version that Chaplin preferred. In 1942 audiences were delighted with the new approach as films from the silent era as a rule were not being reissued. Over the years interest in silent films has made a come back and there are many who regret not being able to enjoy THE GOLD RUSH as it was original shown. Now on the Criterion release we have a beautifully restored copy of both releases. Criterion has gone the extra mile with the 1925 version and removed scratches and dirt so that the film looks the best it has since its original release. Now thorough the efforts of Timothy Brock, who has reconstructed Chaplin's music from the 1942 release, we can watch the film with the music that it should be heard with. With the excellent extras, booklet and restoration there is no question that the Criterion release is one of the most important releases ever. While the Blu-ray is marvelous the DVD release will also be a big improvement over any previous release. And even if you are not a fan of the 1942 release you can use this version to introduce younger children (who do not yet read well enough for silent titles) to the art of Chaplin. I've done this and their response is wonderful. And yes there are some differences between the two releases. Take a look at the letter Georgia Hale writes after not showing up for the New Year's dinner that Charlie has worked so hard to prepare. And for my money the ending of the film works far better in the 1925 release. Judge for yourself.
on May 25, 2000
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!
on February 21, 2005
The four stars goes to the DVD - I give the original silent version of GOld Rush 5 stars, and the re-edited sound-era version 2 stars. This DVD edition lost a star for putting the inferior remake on the first disc. I am mainly writing this review to urge Chaplin newcomers, or anyone for that matter, to watch the original 1925 version first. The re-release has highly distracting and tedious narration throughout the entire film, as all the intertitles have been deleted. At times this narration comes across as bad dubbing, as the words are very roughly synced up with characters talking on the screen. Even though Chaplin himself did the narration, the effect is very cheesy and amaturish, and makes the film MUCH more dated, while taking away much of the emotional effect of the original film. I also prefer the slightly longer, more dramatic 1925 edit, and the original ending, which is just perfect. It seems like the 1942 re-release was more of a gimmick and a chance to make an extra buck than a serious artistic endeavor (kind of like the Star Wars "special editions"). Some would say that at least the re-release had Chaplin's own score. However I think the piano score for the silent version is excellent, despite reviews here to the contrary. First off, the score is based on the original cue sheets, so it is quite authentic to the time. It is played excellently, is well recorded, and is very fitting to the overall mood of the film.
on July 22, 2003
The real news here isn't the second video release of Chaplin's 1942 talkie reissue of the 1925 film, with narration in his plummy later voice detracting from much of the fun. What's significant here is on Disc 2-- the first video release of a definitive version of the original silent classic, which has been restored by Kevin Brownlow and David Gill from Chaplin family material and is about 14 minutes longer and noticeably better quality than the best previous version, the Killiam print which had seen assorted releases on tape and laserdisc. The Chaplin family had previously refused to release that version, believing that the 1942 version represented Chaplin's final thoughts on the film, when what it in fact represented was Chaplin's best idea of how to make an old silent film seem relevant to Casablanca-era audiences. Now it's the '42 version which seems old fashioned, while the '25 one is timeless as ever. Be sure you get this new Warner/MK2 version.
on November 11, 2012
This is, by far, the greatest version of The Gold Rush on the market today. The restoration is gorgeous - the film looks brand new. Also, there's something in this Criterion Collection release that you won't find in any other version of the film: Chaplin's beautiful score, WITHOUT narration. See, Chaplin re-released The Goldrush in 1942, adding a new score and also narrating throughout the film. Personally, I hate the narration. I feel that it killed the beauty and intimacy of the movie. Since I first saw the film, I've always had this problem: I loved the beautiful score Chaplin wrote, but hated the narration.
Anyways, this release includes both the 1942 re-release and the 1925 original WITH CHAPLIN'S SCORE! The music is so beautiful and completely changes the viewing experience.
Also, the DVD is packed with amazing extras that reveal the special effects done in the movie, the making of the film, and the process of restoring the masterpiece. This is a must-have for any Chaplin fan or cinephile!
on June 19, 2012
Charlie Chaplin's 1925 masterpiece, THE GOLD RUSH, is one of the most widely beloved movies ever made. That's easy to understand, as its comedy and romance have a universal appeal that hasn't dated in 87 years.
Besides containing two of Chaplin's most famous comic sequences - the boiled shoe and the dance of the dinner roles - THE GOLD RUSH radiates a warmth that contrasts beautifully with the cold, snowy locale of its story. I love everything Chaplin did, but if I had to pick one film that represents his genius, I guess it would be a toss-up between THE GOLD RUSH and MODERN TIMES (1936), depending on which one I saw last.
Criterion's Blu-ray edition of THE GOLD RUSH is a must, chiefly because we finally get a restored version of the original 1925 release cut. I've always preferred it over Chaplin's 1942 reissue (also included on this disc), which he shortened, and added his own narration and music score. The score is, like all of Chaplin's film music, sublime, and it's been adapted and expanded by composer Timothy Brock for the silent version.
THE GOLD RUSH contains all the ingredients needed to make a great, timeless comedy,
and Criterion's wonderful Blu-ray edition is the one to get. Like genuine gold itself, this film classic's sparkle will last forever.
on December 11, 2012
The Criterion Collection's remastered The Gold Rush (1925) is undoubtedly the Charlie Chaplin release of 2012. For years, the prevailing critical consensus was that Gold Rush was Chaplin's feature film masterpiece. However, a newer generation of critics have since argued that honor should go instead to City Lights (1931). The Gold Rush receives criticism for its episodic structure; however, all of Chaplin's features, including City Lights, are episodic to a degree. This is not necessarily a bad thing, making that a moot critique.
The Criterion Collection release features the 1925 original, along with the 1942 re-edit that omitted the intertitles in favor of narration (by Chaplin) and economically trimmed down of some excess plot developments. While the 1942 version does look better and the editing is better paced, Chaplin's voice-over actually dates the film far worse than the silent original.
Chaplin had a voice which carried well into the sound era. He intuitively knew that silent film was a different art form, however. Thinking about marketing, he seemed to have forgotten that fact. The 1942 version illustrates the artist's discomfort with sound. Chaplin never could wrap his art around the new sound medium, and he pointlessly tells us what we are already seeing. Some may prefer the 1942 version, but my concentration will be on the superior, original version that audiences of 1925 saw.
While The Gold Rush exhibits Chaplin's characteristic pathos, here it is far better balanced with his brand of comedy than any of his other features (when the pathos, often, nearly soaked the films).
Chaplin's increasing need for audience sympathy marred may of his later features. Here, he keeps that need in check, and all for the better. Chaplin's Mutual shorts are considered by many (including Chaplin) to be his best work. One of the reasons for that is the presence of his best nemesis in Eric Campbell. But, when Campbell was killed in an automobile accident in 1917, Chaplin was left without a great heavy. His first feature film, The Kid (1921) was able to bypass that. For this, Chaplin's second Tramp feature, two villains were needed: the bonafide villain Black Larson (Tom Murray) and reformed villain Big Jim McCay (Mack Swain). While neither Swain nor Murray could replace Campbell, they were aptly cast and give the film needed tension.
The Gold Rush`s most discussed scene is the dance of the dinner rolls, often imitated (and usually badly--Chaplin was a master at utilizing props for something other than their intended use). What may be the most compelling scene, however, is the surreal chicken hallucination. Everyone has seen this scene spoofed in countless Looney Tune shorts. The starving villain (Swain) imagines his buddy (Chaplin) to be a walking meal (in this case, a plump chicken). Chaplin's shoe-eating scene (complete with shoe laces substituting for noodles) and the rocking house at the edge of the cliff are additional surreal vignettes.
While Chaplin was never a Surrealist, many of his films contained surreal vignettes. The Kid had the dream of heaven, Sunnyside (1919) has the Tramp frolicking in a ballet with hill nymphs. Perhaps it was Chaplin's occasional, natural elements of Surrealism which endeared him to the movements luminaries, such as André Breton. Next to Harry Langdon and Buster Keaton, Chaplin was the filmmaker most cited by the Surrealists.
As The Gold Rush progresses, hunger, the struggle for survival, and harsh elements give way to a soapy romance with the dance hall girl Georgia (Georgia Hale). Chaplin had originally cast 15 year-old Lita Grey in the role, but his getting her pregnant necessitated a new lead actress. While Chaplin does milk sympathy as a rejected lover, he never does it (here) at the expense of the film's comedic tone.
As to be expected, the Criterion extras are abundant: both film versions, a 15 minute short (Presenting The Gold Rush), audio commentary, booklet, a look at Chaplin the composer, and James Agee's famous 1942 review of the film.
*my review originally appeared at 366 weird movies
on July 12, 2012
This is by far the best release of Chaplin's "The Gold Rush." What's most notable is the way they restored the 1925 version (using digital cleaning-up) and added newly recorded music, based on the 1942 score composed by Chaplin. Of course they also include the 1942 version which also looks very good. Also I found the bonus material on the special camera they used to create the optical effects (ex. Black Larsen getting what he deserved). The narration on the second audio track by the biographer provides good insight into Chaplin and this film. I highly recommend getting this re-release of "The Gold Rush," especially if you own a Blu Ray player and if you are a big fan of Chaplin like me. I only regret not waiting to buy this video through Amazon.