The Gold Rush Movie Analysis Essay

The Gold Rush Movie Analysis Essay

Often when looking at a comedy, the audience focuses on the sentiments they feel rather than the deeper meanings behind the actions. Every comedic movie illustrates and denounces aspects of the society in which it was produced.  As the introduction mentioned, every comedy has a deeper meaning. As illustrated in Chapter Eight of the textbook, the function of comedies is to provide their audiences with a break from their worries. Comedy also has the purpose to, “… release that which society as a whole tries to hold in check.” (Belton 151). Often, discussing difficult topics such as racism, classism, and sexism can be hard, but by framing the issue with humor they seem more palatable. “… Humor is a form of psychological processing, a coping mechanism that helps people to deal with complex and contradictory messages…” it helps the audience laugh at the irony but also reflect on the social issues (O’Hara 3). Multiple techniques are used to accomplish comedic relief while talking about serious topics. The most common techniques discussed in the book are the techniques of Slapstick and Screwball comedies, where the character gets injured to exemplify the consequences of the issues. Another technique brought to light was the Beta-male stereotypes, which help exemplify the disparity of social class among characters. The job of a comedy is to show the harm of social issues, and how resolving them can create a better society (Belton 180). To better understand how comedies changed through time, I compared Charlie Chaplin’s: The Gold Rush (1925) to Bridesmaids (2011).  I chose The Gold Rush because it was one of the first movies in the Comedic boom of the 20s. Chaplin starts the movie in the snow-covered mountains during a storm, he stumbles into a cabin occupied by Black Larsen and Jim McKay. For a while, they cohabitate in the cabin, then Larsen leaves and steals Jim’s gold. Jim and Chaplin stay in the cabin, eat shoes, and starve, and at a certain point, they part ways. Chaplin goes to a nearby town and falls in love with a girl named Georgia, who does not reciprocate. Meanwhile, Jim finds Larsen stealing his gold, Larsen attacks Jim and gives him amnesia, then Larsen flees with the treasure and dies. Jim having amnesia could not remember where he put the gold, so he asks Chaplin to help him find the cabin near the gold. After they find the cabin, the men become rich and return home as multimillionaires, and Chaplin reunites with Georgia (Chaplin). Being that the movie was silent Chaplin had to use Slapstick, so he was often being injured by characters, had to eat a shoe, and almost had his cabin fall off a cliff, to illustrate the themes of the story. On the surface, the movie seems light-hearted, but Chaplin created his movies to denounce different social aspects of the 20s (Belton 162). The major social issue the film brings to light was the cruelty brought on by the materialism of the 20s (Vance 1). There was no brotherhood between the characters because they had to survive and become rich, illustrated by Jim almost killing Chaplin due to his starvation and only having a shoe for Thanksgiving. Piggybacking off the first point was the theme of poverty, Jim and Chaplin only had a shoe to eat for Thanksgiving (Reid 2). This movie perfectly fits the genera of Comedy for its ability to denounce society’s issues in a light-hearted manner.  For the second film, I chose Bridesmaids, because it is a classic comedy of the 21st century. The film plot revolves around Lillian, who is getting married to Doug, and asks her best friend Annie to be the Maid of Honor. Helen, who is the wife of Lillian’s fiancés boss, instead wants to usurp the Maid of Honor position from Annie and prove she knows Lillian better. The movie evolves with Annie trying her best to make the bridal party happy, while Helen is constantly one-upping her, until the end when Helen realizes that she was wrong (Feig1). The societal implications of the movie were the disparity in social class, and the cruelty of women. The whole reason Helen was able to one-up Annie was that she had money and richer tastes, while Annie was the only member of the bridal group that did not have enough money to afford first-class to Vegas or the Bridesmaid dress. As said in the book Annie represented a Beta-female, she did not have a stable job and was living at home with her mother, she was happy that Lilly was moving on with her life but did not want things to change (Belton 180). The other societal issue was the cruelty of women, Helen was so mean to Annie because she needed validation, and no one in the bridal party stood up for Annie (Rajczak 1). Bridesmaids is the perfect example of a Screwball comedy of its time, especially when all the women got food poisoning in the bridal store.  Even though The Gold Rush and Bridesmaids were made 86 years apart they share similar social issues. Both address the concept of social class and being an outsider. In The Gold Rush, Chaplin dealt with the drawbacks of poverty when trying to make a New Year’s meal, while in Bridesmaid Annie dealt with poverty when sitting on the plane in coach, while her friends were in first-class. Another similarity is that both characters are outsiders within their groups and must find their way. Both movies fit into Comedy because they illustrate the social dilemmas while making the audience laugh.  Despite the time difference societal issues have not changed. Genres such as Comedy have the job to fill a need in society. Although the common viewer only focuses on if the movie made them laugh there is a deeper meaning. Comedies have been impacting people’s views on society for a century now, and the techniques have not changed too much, meaning it is effective at its job.Simply press the button, and we’ll handle the rest!

 

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