Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Coming Saturday, Feb. 3: dinner and a movie (Chaplin's 'The Gold Rush') at Campton Historical Society

A German poster for Chaplin's 'The Gold Rush' (1925).

This weekend brings one of my favorite gigs of the year: the annual mid-winter potluck dinner and silent movie program at the Campton (N.H.) Historical Society.

We've been doing this for more than 10 years now. And I've come to believe that there's no better way to experience a silent film than in the dead of winter, surrounded by snowy woods, in a warm meetinghouse filled with people who've just enjoyed a pot luck supper. 

Join us and experience this for yourself. This year's edition, which features Chaplin's epic comedy 'The Gold Rush' (1925) will take place on Saturday, Feb. 3. 

The pot luck supper (be sure to bring a dish!) starts at 5 p.m. The movie comes afterwards—we usually start by 6:15 p.m. or so. 

More information is in the press release below. Hope to see you there!

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Chaplin and his improvised foot warmer in 'The Gold Rush' (1925).

Contact Jeff Rapsis • (603) 236-9237 •

Silent comedy masterpiece 'The Gold Rush' to screen with live music in Campton, N.H. on Saturday, Feb. 3

Dinner and a movie: family-friendly Charlie Chaplin film is featured attraction of local historical society's annual pot luck supper; public welcome

CAMPTON, N.H.— He was a comedic icon of the silent era, and 'The Gold Rush' was the movie that he wished to be remembered for.

He was Charlie Chaplin, whose Little Tramp character was beloved by early film audiences and remains a global icon to this day.

See for yourself how it all began when 'The Gold Rush' (1925), a feature-length film regarded as a Chaplin masterpiece, is screened by the Campton Historical Society on Saturday, Feb. 3.

The event, which is free and open to all, takes place at Old Campton Town Hall, 529 Route 175, Campton, N.H.

It starts with a pot luck dinner at 5 p.m., with the film program to begin at 6 p.m.

Those attending the pot luck dinner are asked to bring one of the following: soup, bread, salad, main dish, dessert or beverage.

Live music for the silent film program will be provided by silent film accompanist Jeff Rapsis.

'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.

Shoe or Thanksgiving dinner? The definition of food changes according to how hungry you are.

'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.

" '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.

"Seeing a Charlie Chaplin film with live music and an audience is one of the great experiences of the cinema of any era," said Jeff Rapsis, a New Hampshire-based silent film musician who will accompany the film.

"Films such as 'The Gold Rush' were designed for a specific environment. If you can put those conditions together again, you can get a sense of why people first fell in love with the movies," Rapsis said.

'The Gold Rush' will be screened with live music on Saturday, Feb. 3 at 6 p.m. at Old Campton Town Hall, 529 Route 175, Campton, N.H.

The film will follow a pot luck supper that starts at 5 p.m. Those attending the pot luck dinner are asked to bring one of the following: soup, bread, salad, main dish, dessert or beverage.

The event is free and open to all, with donations accepted to support the Campton Historical Society.

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