Chaplin--The Most Enjoyable Mime to Listen to

†††††††† The Gold Rush (1925), a silent film, is probably the best example of how music and sound effects are significant contributions to the development of cinema.

†††††††† My first viewing of † The Gold Rush was a poorly maintained copy with pre-recorded background music played only by a piano. The movie still showed its brilliance through Chaplinís delightful miming, but the lack of sound effects and a better suited musical score made the movie drag as well as downplay the miming.

†††††††† After viewing the edition with Chaplinís narration and his original score (along with sound effects), I found that the movie really came to life. With the use of sound effects, the Trampís performance radiated laughter rather than receiving a few chuckles. The score helped move the film along when it was at a slow pace such as at the romantic scenes and the scenes without Chaplin. The addition of music and sound effects made the film totally new.

†††††††† There have been other significant composers and films that have made an impact on the development of cinema through their scores and sound. Movies such as The Jazz Singer (1927, directed by Alan Crosland, with the first spoken dialogue created (by accident) by using a Vitaphone track (Cook 211), and King Kong (1933), directed by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack, that was one of the first movies to actually have a score composed specifically for a film.

†††††††† Although, these films helped pioneer sound and music in cinema as well as help develop the cinema into a mainstream commercial and artful success, Chaplinís The Gold Rush proved the significance of what sound and music could do for film.

†††††††† The Gold Rush was a success before the sound was added, but with the addition of sound it became exactly what its title implied, gold. The film was re-released in 1943 with the new score and sound effects in place, and then went on to receive Academy Award nominations for Best Score and for Best Sound, losing to Michael Curtiz Ďs 1942 Yankee Doodle Dandy and to Max Steinerís Now, VoyagerThe Gold RushĒ)

†††††††† Chaplin also showed the value of sound in film with his first two sound films. City Lights (1931) and Modern Times (1936) are two films that not only provide proof to Chaplinís comedic genius but to his musical genius. He wrote the musical scores for both the films but did not receive recognition from the Academy.

†††††††† In City Lights, Chaplin was under pressure to make a full-sound picture but decided against it and used only a recorded score. As cinema developed and silent films were replaced with full-talkies due to the technological advances, Chaplin agreed to make Modern Times a full sound film. Ever a comic, Chaplin uses sound uniquely, such as how the audience only hears human voices from mechanical devices, underlying the film and Chaplinís point that technology was starting to dehumanize society. When the Tramp is allowed to speak on camera for the first time, he speaks gibberish.

†††††††† This unique way to enter into the sound era of film was a way for Chaplin to extend his character without changing him entirely.

†††††††† Chaplinís use of sound effects and scores in his movies, with little dialogue (or at least with little recognizable dialogue), helped show the progression of sound into film, from music to sound effects to dialogue. He also helped prove that with the addition of sound to a film it can make the film come alive. Chaplin developed as the cinema developed, but he was still capable of not altering his famous character the Tramp. Thus, he will forever be remembered as the mime that was so enjoyable to listen to.

Works Cited

Cook, David A. A History of Narrative Film. 4th ed. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 2004.

ďThe Gold Rush.Ē (

Susie Shircliff

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