A lone prospector ventures into Alaska looking for gold. He gets mixed up with some burly characters and falls in love with the beautiful Georgia. He tries to win her heart with his singular charm. Written by
John J. Magee <email@example.com>
I've seen both version of this film--the original silent version from 1925 and the re-release by Chaplin in the 1940s. The difference is that the re-release was designed to appeal to a new audience that expected sound from their movies. To do this, title cards were removed--having Chaplin narrate the film. In addition, Chaplin-created music (for the most part--some were classical pieces), sound effects and singing were added to make the movie more palatable to the average viewer. I personally like BOTH versions and the one you watch is up to you if you get a copy of the Warner Brothers release on DVD--it has both plus excellent DVD extras. Otherwise, there have been a lot of public domain versions on video out there--many with terrible quality prints or music or both. The Warner version is the most pristine and beautiful silent print you can find. The version usually shown on Turner Classic movies is the 1942 re-release.
I use this film for my American history class when we do our unit on the history of film, though I might, in the future, use it for my Psychology classes as well (I teach both) because Chaplin's genius came from his obsessive-compulsive nature. The movie reportedly had 27 times more film exposed than you actually see in the film and the shoe eating segment was shot after more than 60 takes!!
The plot involves Charlie going to Alaska for the Gold Rush at the turn of the century. Along the way, he has a series of misadventures that have been thoroughly discussed in the other reviews here on IMDb. Suffice to say, the supporting acting was excellent and the story kept an excellent pace and had enough slapstick to make it fun to watch (something not true of all full-length slapstick comedies--sometimes, their pacing was negatively affected by the transition from shorts to full-length).
This is a gorgeous, well-executed piece of American art and a must for any real cinemaniac. The musical score (arranged by Chaplin), direction, acting and cinematography all are simply perfect--making this, in my opinion, the best full-length silent comedy ever made. This is saying a lot considering how much I love Harold Lloyd and Buster Keaton's films!
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