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Another Great Chaplin Silent Film with Live Orchestra!

7:30pm Mansfield Theater

Friday May 10 2024

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Music composed by Charles Chaplin 

2007 restoration of Chaplin’s score by Timothy Brock

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Chaplin also scored, produced, and directed The Gold Rush

Inspired by both the Klondike Gold Rush and the infamous Donner party (Charlie eats his shoe!), Chaplin mixes comedy and tragedy to great effect.

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In this classic silent comedy, the Little Tramp (Chaplin) heads north to join in the Klondike gold rush. Trapped in a small cabin by a blizzard, the Tramp is forced to share close quarters with a successful prospector (Mack Swain) and a fugitive (Tom Murray). Eventually able to leave the cabin, he falls for a lovely barmaid (Georgia Hale), trying valiantly to win her affections. When the prospector needs help locating his claim, it appears the Tramp’s fortunes may change.

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The Gold Rush © Roy Export S.A.S.
Charlie ChaplinTM ©Bubbles Incorporated S.A.

The Gold Rush 

Charles Chaplin  |  1889 - 1977

Although sound had come to pictures by the late 1920s, Chaplin still believed in the aesthetics of silent movies and his own mastery of the art of pantomime.


Charlie Chaplin in 1921

Charlie Chaplin became a worldwide icon through his screen persona, The Tramp, and is considered one of the most important figures in the history of the film industry. 

Chaplin wrote, directed, produced, edited, starred in, and composed the music for most of his films. The score to The Gold Rush is his most operatic, heavily influenced by Wagner and the use of leitmotif. The most obvious use of leitmotif is every interaction between Georgia (played by Georgia Hale) and the Tramp (Chaplin). Chaplin utilizes a love theme that comes again and again as the two characters come together or when the Tramp ponders his love interest alone in his cabin. Chaplin quotes Siegfried’s motif from Wagner's Ring Cycle in association with gold. Other composers who influenced the score include Tchaikovsky, Elgar, and Rimsky-Korsakov (Flight of the Bumblebee). 

One of Chaplin’s most celebrated sequences in The Gold Rush (and in all his films) finds the Tramp, out of desperate hunger, preparing a Thanksgiving dinner in which he boils his boot and eats it, picking the nails as though they were chicken bones, and twirling the bootlaces about a fork and eating them as though they were spaghetti. The delicate hilarity of the boot becoming food is Chaplin’s most outstanding comic transposition gag.

Equally celebrated is the “dance of the rolls” sequence, in which Charlie sticks two forks into bread rolls turning them into a pair of legs with booted feet; Chaplin uses his head and upper body as if they were attached to his fork “legs” and deftly performs a little dance routine.

In 1972, as part of a renewed appreciation for his work, Chaplin received an Honorary Academy Award for “the incalculable effect he has had in making motion pictures the art form of this century.” He continues to be held in high regard, with The Gold Rush, City Lights, Modern Times, and The Great Dictator often ranked on lists of the greatest films of all time.

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