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Film Festival 09 - The Gold Rush

The Gold Rush

USA 1925, 82m
Director: Charles Chaplin

A highlight of any movie-going year, this year's Live Cinema collaboration between the Festival and the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra offers laughter and spectacle. Charlie Chaplin's The Gold Rush is one of the great, endlessly rewatchable cinema comedies - and its presentation with live music is exactly the kind of experience that The Civic was originally designed to deliver so grandly. Conductor/composer Timothy Brock has worked with the Chaplin Estate since 1999 to reconstruct Chaplin's own superb film scores. He completes that project with his work on The Gold Rush. He returns to the Festival to conduct the Auckland Philharmonia in this single New Zealand performance, and to prove one more time how gloriously far from silent was the cinema we mistakenly call by that name.

Like Keaton's immortal The General, the 1925 The Gold Rush places its comic anti-hero at the centre of a historical epic. He is The Lone Prospector, a gentle soul among the throngs who've headed to Alaska hungry for gold. We see him first traipsing nimbly along the rim of a ridge high on a mountain pass, blithely unaware that he's being followed by a large black bear&
The Gold Rush was the last movie Chaplin made before the specter of technological change - the 'talkies' - began to haunt him. Its brilliant set-pieces - the Little Tramp making dinner rolls dance, ravenous Mack Swain mistaking the Tramp for a large chicken, Swain and the Tramp feasting upon the latter's shoe, and the cabin teetering on the edge of the abyss - are classic moments of silent-film comedy. Though it is probably Chaplin's most famous film, The Gold Rush is atypical in several ways. Its snowy wastes are far removed from his usual urban and rural settings - and the film has a happy ending with the Tramp becoming a millionaire. The Museum of Modern Art's notes suggest that The Gold Rush "captured Chaplin in a time of relative contentment - one of the medium's great geniuses at a moment of confidence in his ability to control his destiny and his art."  - BG