FOLA presents “The Gold Rush” on Aug. 26

LUDLOW, Vt. — Silent film returns to the big screen this month in Ludlow with “The Gold Rush” (1925), a classic comedy starring Charlie Chaplin.

Charlie Chaplin prepares to eat his shoe in “The Gold Rush.” Photo provided

The screening will take place on Saturday, Aug. 26, at 7 p.m., at Heald Auditorium in Ludlow Town Hall, 37 Depot Street, Ludlow.

Presented by the Friends of Ludlow Auditorium (FOLA), the screening will feature accompaniment by Jeff Rapsis, a New Hampshire-based composer who specializes in creating live music for silent film presentations.

Admission is free and all are welcome to this family-friendly event. Donations will go to the Ludlow Recovery Fund, to aid the community following this year’s disastrous flooding.

“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.

“‘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 summer’s screenings at the Leavitt are 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. For more information on the music, visit

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