Tim Brown Charlie Chaplin?s The Gold Rush Viewing Response The characters in Mark Sennett?s films tend to be treated like toys or props just to use for gags. They sustain huge amounts of abuse, but wind up being just fine nonetheless. Also, as Mark Sennett said himself, the plots of his films were just something used to hang gags from. However, Charlie Chaplin?s films were different. He was known for actually humanizing his characters, and making them seem more realistic as a result. His film The Gold Rush is no exception to this. These details start off small, but they?re there nonetheless. In the beginning of the film, the Little Tramp discovers Black Larsen?s cabin and enters it because he was cold and tired from all of the hiking he was doing. Having realistic traits like that sets the foundation for the Little Tramp feeling like a realistic character to the audience. Following that, Black Larsen returns to his cabin and tells the Tramp to leave, but the strong winds prevents him from doing so. Then he threatens the Tramp with his gun. However, the Tramp isn?t actually shot or the victim of a gag here. Instead, Big Jim shows up at this time and helps the Tramp out of this situation. The danger is kept real, but the characters themselves are also kept realistic as they don?t actually get shot and then wind up just fine or anything. From there, we are introduced to another part of the Tramp?s character that makes him seem more human: a love interest. The Tramp falls in love with Georgia, but Georgia isn?t interested in the Tramp. The Tramp tries to win her favor, eventually inviting her over to where he was staying on New Year?s eve, but she forgets about the arrangement. However, after remembering and seeing how the Tramp had prepared for the night, she finally begins to return his feelings. This love story is realistic and believable, and isn?t simply used for gags, making the character seem more realistic. Beyond that, what truly makes the Tramp realistic are his personality flaws. These are depicted at times such as just after Georgia leaves the Tramp?s cabin for the first time. The Tramp, being very excited that Georgia was going to be coming back on New Year?s eve, starts jumping all around the cabin once she leaves, and creating a huge mess as a result. Much as a surprise to the Tramp, Georgia returns just after that, as she had forgotten her gloves. Such character flaws are, even if exaggerated for the film, realistic and believable, and make characters such as the Tramp more human as a result Big Jim also shares in this treatment. He ends up getting into a bit of a fight with Black Larsen when he discovers that Larsen was attempting to steal his gold. Larsen ends up losing the struggle, but he still managed to deal a blow to Big Jim which makes him loose his memory of where his gold was stored. This makes Big Jim seem more human since even someone like him couldn?t escape the fight without damage and makes us sympathetic towards him, since he was portrayed as a nice guy earlier in the film as he did help the Tramp with Black Larsen. Even the villains and foes in the film are made seem more human by giving them character flaws as well. Black Larsen was given the flaw of greed, which ends up leading him to his demise when he attempts to steal Big Jim?s gold. Jack Cameron is also given a flaw in the form of being a ?ladies man,? as the film put it. Such traits help to explain why the characters made the actions they did, and as a result making the characters more believable and human. Putting all this together, it can quite easily be observed that Charlie Chaplin did a great job of making his characters seem human. By giving his characters personalities and personality flaws, the characters actions made sense to the audience and could easily be understood. By putting the heroes into situations the audience could sympathize with after having their personalities developed, the audience could feel for the characters. Finally, by not treating the characters as toys or props and keeping the situations realistic, the illusion of the film was not dispelled and the audience continued to feel for and understand the characters. The combined result is that Charlie Chaplin?s characters come off as being quite human and believable to the audience.
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