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This discussion of the Gold Rush will look at the different ways in which Chaplin uses the cinematic elements to affect the audience’s perception, and some of the acting tools used by one or more of the actors in this film.
The well-loved Chaplin classic stars Charlie as “The Lonely Prospector”. The 35mm print of this film features Chaplin in his familiar character as the little tramp. This film features the legendary Dance of the Dinner Rolls as Charlie manages to triumph over extreme elements, starvation and unrequited love. In this film, Chaplin falls in love and tries to woo a gorgeous saloon performer acted by Georgia Hale. To begin with, the sequence perfectly showcases Chaplin’s skills a silent performer. Because of the given circumstances, actors express rhythmical movements, gestures and facial mannerisms. For example, when Chaplin and Big Jim were facing starvation, piano tempo was fast displaying frustration (12:26; 21:02). This film contains iconic images; these include: fighting a cabin teetering on a cliff edge over the snowy pass (6:26), to the lone prospector trying to make a meal out of his boiled shoe (17:23), and eating it (18:22). Expressively Chaplin performs the Rolls dance; by sticking forks in two buns and having them dance around on the tabletop (1:01:42). Chaplin’s dance of the Dinner Rolls shows him being serious, yet enjoying the dance. He goes through a planet of know-how’s with each passing moment, and yet all along, those modest rolls are dancing it up at his command. This brings about the aspect of performance within a performance. The diversity of emotion that Chaplin gets into this scene is what is still so fascinating about the film. Act one also contains special effects; for instance when big Jim hallucinated dinner (21:28; 22:40). The unique effects helped the gag work. Depth of field and building frame provided “picture frame” to highlight the little fellow’s isolation (35:07). Silhouette and solarization effects highlight the “Little Fellow’s” sense of betrayal. Music and actions in the movie creates various emotions, for instance, when Charlie and Georgia kiss (1:34:28), the music changes to a romantic tone. Another instance is when the rope that Charlie tied around his waist (40:25) is pulled by the dog linked to it; making Charlie fall (41:10). This brings about comical emotions. The re-edited 1943 issue contained music score, sound, removed minutes, and narration. This version appears with a voice over narration added by Chaplin himself in a subsequent release. An acting tool used in this issue by the actors was choreography. This was to keep the audience entertained. The musical score is also extensively employed to establish various moods. Consequently, it is fundamental to the appreciation of the narrative, and emotional engagement with the characters within it. In doing so we may begin to see how his employment of sound could be seen as somewhat pragmatic, turning the new possibilities to his advantage without allowing them to compromise his basic methodology. In particular, attention will be paid to the role of music in the film and to the use of sound effects and functions that they perform. At various other times in the film, Chaplin uses music to emphasize aspects of the visuals and to signpost changes in the narrative. At several points, for instance, we hear a short, sharp fanfare as the narrative shifts to a new location, or when new characters first enter a scene. This form of musical introduction is used the first
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