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Gold Rush, The
(Gold Rush, The)

The story takes place in Alaska, 1898. Adventurers from everywhere in the world travel to the Yukon river to find Gold. So does Charlie, who proves to be unadventurous and unsuitable for the task. The young gold digger has forgotten where the Gold is located and is starving from a lack of foodstuffs. Luckily, the film ends well and is successful in every way. THE GOLD RUSH includes two of the most famous slapstick scenes, the bread dance and the devouring of an old soft-boiled shoe. Musically, the film was a great success for its energy and emotion.


In his score for THE GOLD RUSH Chaplin focused primarily on melodic structure and chord progression. He freed himself of metronomic servitude, and composed just as he heard in his head. The opening 10 bars of The Gold Rush for example has no less than 4 meter changes in it, yet it flows as naturally as any piece written in 4/4. In the score to THE GOLD RUSH there is storm music, fight music, love music, dance-hall music. But there is also meticulously written music for hiccups, hunger, sleep, eating, hallucinating, snowball fights, suspicion, indignity, pride and indifference; all key elements in both the film and his music. There is also a fair amount of quotations in the score, as was the common practice of the time. Chaplin quotes well known orchestral music from Rimsky-Korsakov, Tchaikovsky and popular tunes such as For He’s A Jolly Good Fellow, considered the second most popular song in English, next to Happy Birthday. (Timothy Brock)

Charlie is one of many adventurers hungry for gold. The only problem standing in his way is that he is not suited for adventure. During a snowstorm Charlie flees into the infamous Big Jim’s hut where he meets his future companion, Larsen. The three adventurers hunger and Big Jim is sent off to get help. Instead of doing so, he shoots two Gold diggers, steals their riches and food and has no intention on returning to the hut. Meanwhile, Charlie and Larsen’s hunger gets worse and they begin to hallucinate. Larsen mistakes Charlie for a chicken and attacks him, yet Charlie is able to save himself just in time. They overcome their hunger and survive the storm after killing and devouring a bear. After the storm, Larsen and Charlie’s paths separate. Charlie moves to the city and falls unhappily in love with Georgia. Larsen unluckily runs into Big Jim who knocks him down. Confused and downtrodden, Larsen reaches the city and searches for Charlie. Their reunion remains happy in spite of Charlie’s fear that Larsen may hallucinate and attack him once again. Their hut becomes victim of a snowstorm, but with luck on their side, Larsen and Charlie are spared. They stumble over Big Jim’s gold and discover that he has died in an avalanche. Now the two adventurers are rich and content and Charlie and Georgia happily unite.


Charles Chaplin

1942 Arranged by Timothy Brock (2007)
  large orchestra (from 46 Musicians)    
1+1/pic.1/ca.2+bcl.1 - - timp.2perc.pno/cel.hp - strings (min
sync fps