Gold Rush: Silence Is Golden

         During his career, Charlie Chaplin was one of the highest paid actors of his time. Throughout his career, he had many movies that featured historic aspects of cinema. In 1925, Charlie Chaplin directed his favorite film, The Gold Rush. The historical aspect in this movie, like all of Chaplin's early movies, is the silent comedy used.

         This movie is set during the Klondike gold rush of 1898. This shows the hardships, starvation and greed that three prospectors go through to beat each other to a gold claim. Since this was to be a silent film, Chaplin and the other actors needed to make up for the silence with props and body language.

         One of the best scenes to show the use of props was the one in which Charlie Chaplin and one of the other prospectors were both so hungry that they were hallucinating about food. The other prospect kept seeing Chaplin as a giant chicken and tries to catch him to eat him. In this scene, they both try to think of anything they can eat, and Chaplin decides to cook his boot. The scene shows Chaplin stirring the boot around in the pot with water, and then after it is "cooked," Chaplin puts the boot on a serving plate and sets two plates and silverware on the table. Both men sit down at the table to their meal and Chaplin just starts eating as if the boot is not too bad, while the other man tries a piece and says that he cannot eat it. One of the most memorable parts to this scene was Chaplin winding the shoelace around his fork as if it were spaghetti and almost enjoying the taste. The most interesting fact about this scene was that the shoelace was actually black licorice.

         Charlie Chaplin was very talented and was always able to make people laugh in his movies with his props and body language. In the scene with the boot, obviously the main prop used was the boot. In addition to the boot, the body movements and facial expressions made by both Chaplin and the other man made the scene very funny. It was the great body language that Charlie Chaplin used in all of his movies that made him as famous as he was. An interesting bit of information is the fact that even when he could finally make a film with sound, he filmed Modern Times in 1936 with sound effects and no vocal sounds except for his singing of a song near the end. However, he ended up making several films with vocal and sound effects: The Great Dictator (1940), Monsieur Verdoux (1947), Limelight (1952), A King in New York (1957), A Countess from Hong Kong (1967).

Amanda Saunders

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