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Behind-the-Scenes of The Gold Rush (1925)

How'd they shoot this?

Behind-the-Scenes of The Gold Rush (1925)

Charlie Chaplin is undoubtedly the most loved & popular filmmaker in the whole world. He is also one of those few people whom nobody criticizes. He is favourite among all types of audiences, from intellectuals to the casual audience. On the outer shell, he was “The Little Tramp”, but on a deeper level he was a social commentator. He believed tragedy and ridicule are never far apart. His most special ability was to say complex things in a very simplistic way using comedy as his vehicle.

One of his most loved work is his 1925 film The Gold Rush. Chaplin himself considered it as his finest work and wished that people remembers him for this film. The Gold Rush was truly one of his most elaborate work. But, the making of it was cumbersome and the production took nearly two years to complete

The inspiration for The Gold Rush came from two sources. First was the “Klondike Gold Rush of 1896”, where a large number of prospectors from San Francisco and Seattle migrated to Klondike region in Canada, when they learnt that Gold was discovered in that region. Some of them became wealthy while others failed. Chaplin was inspired by a picture of the Rush (picture given) where an endless line of prospectors were climbing the Chilkoot Pass to reach Klondike. The Second Inspiration was the 1846 “Donner-Reed Party” where a group of 87 Americans sets out on a journey to California in a wagon train. The journey usually took 5-6 months but they were trapped in heavy snowstorm & was stuck for nearly 5 months. They succumbed to cannibalism due to shortage of food. Of the 87 only 48 people survived. Chaplin used the experience of these survivors.

For the role of the leading lady, Lita Grey was first cast, whom Chaplin worked with in The Kid (1921). During the shooting, Chaplin & Lita engaged in a secret affair and Lita got pregnant. It forced Charlie to marry her & search for a new leading lady for the film. Finally Georgia Hale was cast. The film was initially decided to be shot on location. For two weeks Chaplin shot on location at Truckee in the country of Sierra Nevada. But, due to Chaplin’s leisurely way of filming with multiple takes, the shoot was getting problematic. So, the entire film was then shot in Chaplin’s Studio, with detailed reconstruction of the mountain range.

The famous Boot-Eating scene took 63 shots to film as Chaplin was not satisfied. The boot they were eating were made of Licorice, which is a type of edible plant. After the shoot was complete, Chaplin was hospitalized due to Insulin shock. The film was released as a silent film but in 1942 Chaplin re-released it with recorded Music, sound effects and replaced the title cards with Voice-Over Narration. James Fields received Academy Award nomination for Best Sound Recording.

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Dibakar is a keen observer of Music and films. He reads and writes about films and is also interested in composing instrumental Music. He has a knack of researching about anything that interests him. Usual talks of him are mostly about the contemporary cinema and its analysis. Dibakar is a graduate, specialized in the field of computer Application.

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