Jan 28, 2011

The Gold Rush, as it was made to be seen

Sometimes all you need for an atmospheric and heart-warming Thursday night is three euro. And an orchestra. And a big canvas. And auditorium full of people around you. Oh, and the undeniable genius of Charlie Chaplin.

In other words, I went to see The Gold Rush with the music played live by the City Orchestra.

I had previously seen the reissued 1942 version of The Gold Rush, narrated by Chaplin, and I loved it, of course. The version I now saw was closer to the original 1925 one, with a couple of restored scenes and the traditional intertitles (instead of the voiceover). I definitely prefer the intertitles, because I remember feeling that the voiceover took something away from the distinctive Chaplin-y mood of the film.

And, as we all now, movies are always best when seen in a cinema, and The Gold Rush was so much better when seen in a concert hall. The live orchestra didn't hurt either. Not every hiccup and bang hit the spot, but I didn't mind, because live music added so much to the atmosphere. It was a bit like going back to the origins of cinema. (And respect for the orchestra for playing 90 minutes without breaks!)

The auditorium was full of people, wall-to-wall. The wonderful thing was, there were little kids and groups of high school students, pensioners dressed in their best and everything in between! And I bet they all enjoyed the show. For different reasons maybe, but that's just the awesomeness of Chaplin.

(By the way, I had a funny feeling when watching the film and listening to the audience's reactions. It was similar to the feeling when you watch your favourite film with friends, who haven't seen it before and you stress about them missing the best bits and just wish they'll like it as much as you do. I was indeed very happy to listen to the continuous laughter and the little aww at the end, and afterwards eavesdrop to hear how much everyone had enjoyed it.)

I, of course, enjoyed the show for reasons, which I've been repeating over and over again in the numerous Chaplin-related posts in this blog, and which I will this time restrain myself for listing. But as a reminder, they include a lot of words like 'awesome', 'wonderful', 'ridiculously funny' and 'so freaking genius it makes me want to cry'.

This might be a bit unfair for the other Chaplin films, which I've only seen on small screen, but anyhow I will say that The Gold Rush might have improved its position among my favourites after this second watch. It's better paced than some other films, and very cleverly structured to balance between comedy and drama. And it is, after all, the film Chaplin wanted to be remembered for.

P.S. One of the scenes, a lenghty kissing scene in the end of the film, was deleted from the re-realeased version for a reason: at the time the film was shot Charlie was having a fling with the female lead, Georgia Hale. (His screen leading ladies were more than often leading ladies in his personal life too. For example in The Gold Rush, Georgia replaced Lita Grey as the female lead, because Lita became pregnant. For Charlie, of course.) By the 1942 re-release Georgia was of course water under the bridge, so Charlie deleted the kissing scene, which, according to her, hadn't required acting at all. Aw, Charlie and her ladies...

P.P.S. Did you know Charlie Chaplin holds an unofficial record for receiving the longest applause in the history of Academy Awards? There was a standing ovation of twelve minutes when he came to collect his Honorary Oscar in 1972. I didn't know about the record before today, but somehow I'm not surprised at all. Go Charles, go.


Chaplin In Pictures said...

How wonderful! I've seen a few of Charlie's films on the big screen (never with a live orchestra!) and it really makes a difference. This is the way his films were meant to be seen. I also prefer the 1925 silent version (and the original ending). Even though I like hearing Charlie' voice, the '42 version is a little distracting.
Regarding the standing ovation, I think Charlie said later he was surprised by it because he thought they might hiss.

Eeva said...

It was indeed wonderful! I'm hoping they'd organize more events like that.

I also remember thinking that the ending in the '42 version felt a bit... flat. The original, however, is very sweet.

Btw, I love your blog! Keep posting, all the pictures are just wonderful!

Jessica said...

Thank you so much! I will be posting more soon.