Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Chaplin's 'The Gold Rush' on New Year's Day in Greenfield, Mass. plus thanks to everyone!

Charlie Chaplin warms his feet in 'The Gold Rush' (1925).

Happy holidays to everyone!

Next up I'm doing live music for Chaplin's 'The Gold Rush' (1925) on New Year's Day (Jan. 1, 2024) at the Garden Cinemas in Greenfield, Mass.

Showtime is 6:30 p.m. Hope you'll join us for Chaplin's immortal comedy, set in the Klondike Gold Rush era. Lots more info is in the press release pasted in below.

For now in what I assume will be my final post of 2023, I'd like to thank everyone who attended or who otherwise supported my screenings in the past year.

I very much appreciate all the people, many unknown to me, who make it possible to continue to do live music for silent cinema a century after the format was reaching its peak.

They do that by buying tickets and attending screenings that I accompany. This is crucially important because without an audience, the experience doesn't work, either artistically or financially. 

So thank you! Hope to see you all again in the new year—at least until the lights go down.

*    *    *

Chaplin consumes a shoe in a famous sequence from 'The Gold Rush' (1925). 

Contact Jeff Rapsis • (603) 236-9237 • jeffrapsis@gmail.com

Charlie Chaplin's 'The Gold Rush' in Greenfield, Mass. on Monday, Jan. 1

Family fun: Little Tramp's silent film comedy classic set in the frozen Arctic to be screened with live music on New Year's Day

GREENFIELD, Mass. — Classic silent film comedy returns to the big screen on New Year's Day with 'The Gold Rush' (1925), a classic comedy starring Charlie Chaplin.

The screening will take place on Monday, Jan. 1, 2024 at 6:30 p.m. at the Greenfield Garden Cinemas, 361 Main St., Greenfield.

The screening will feature live accompaniment by Jeff Rapsis, a New Hampshire-based composer who specializes in creating music for silent films.

Admission is $10.50 adults, $8:50 for children, seniors, and students. Tickets are available online or at the door.

'The Gold Rush,' a landmark comedy and one of the top-grossing films of the silent era, finds Chaplin's iconic 'Little Tramp' character journeying to the frozen wastelands of the Yukon. There as a prospector, the Tramp's search for gold turns into a pursuit of romance, but with plenty of laughs along the way.

The film contains several famous scenes, both comic and dramatic, including a starving Chaplin forced to eat his shoe for Thanksgiving dinner and a heart-breaking New Year's Eve celebration.

As a comedian, Chaplin emerged as the first superstar in the early days of cinema. From humble beginnings as a musical hall entertainer in England, he came to Hollywood and used his talents to quickly rise to the pinnacle of stardom in the then-new medium of motion pictures. His popularity never waned, and his image remains recognized around the world to this day.

'The Gold Rush,' regarded by many critics as Chaplin's best film, is a prime example of his unique talent for combining slapstick comedy and intense dramatic emotion.

Chaplin in 'The Gold Rush' (1925).

" 'The Gold Rush' is still an effective tear-jerker," wrote critic Eric Kohn of indieWIRE. "In the YouTube era, audiences — myself included — often anoint the latest sneezing panda phenomenon as comedic gold. Unless I’m missing something, however, nothing online has come close to matching the mixture of affectionate fragility and seamless comedic inspiration perfected by the Tramp."

Rapsis, who uses original themes to improvise silent film scores, said the best silent film comedies often used visual humor to create laughter out of simple situations. Because of this, audiences continue to respond to them in the 21st century, especially if they're presented as intended — with an audience and live music.

"These comedies were created to be shown on the big screen as a communal experience," Rapsis said. "With an audience and live music, they still come to life as their creators intended them to. So this screening is a great chance to experience films that first caused people to fall in love with the movies," he said.

Rapsis achieves a traditional movie score sound for silent film screenings by using a digital synthesizer that reproduces the texture of the full orchestra.

Upcoming titles in the Garden Cinema's silent film series include:

• Monday, Feb. 5 at 6:30 p.m.: 'Flesh and the Devil' (1926). Just in time for Valentine's Day! Garbo and Gilbert steam up the camera lens in this torrid romance set in 19th century European high society.

• Monday, March 4 at 6:30 p.m.: 'The Passion of Joan of Arc' (1928). Danish director Carl Dreyer's intense recreation of the trial of Joan of Arc set new standards for cinematography and expanded the language of film in new directions.

• Monday, April 1 at 6:30 p.m.: 'Safety Last' (1923). The iconic image of Harold Lloyd dangling from the hands of a downtown clock is just one scene of a remarkable thrill comedy that has lost none of its power over audiences.

Charlie Chaplin's 'The Gold Rush' will be screened with live music on Monday, Jan. 1, 2024 at 6:30 p.m. at the Greenfield Garden Cinemas, 361 Main St., Greenfield.

Admission is $10.50 adults, $8:50 for children, seniors, and students. Tickets are at the door; advance tickets are available at www.gardencinemas.net. For more information, call the box office at (413) 774-4881.

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