Charlie Chaplin is the first actor/director that I think of when I imagine the silent film era. through the use of mime, slapstick and other routines, Chaplin would become iconic figure silent film comedy. One of his most famous films that pushed the envelope of special affects at the time would have to be The Gold Rush. Chaplin declared several times that this was the film that he most wanted to be remembered for.
When writing "The Gold Rush," Chaplin wuold get his first ideas from steroscope pictures of the Klondike gold rush. He was partiuclarly inspired by the images the miners scaling the moutain. Addionally he would be inspired by reading about how snowbound immigranst had to eat their own shoes to survive. Chaplin would take these very real happenings and apply it to his own comdey becoming legendary video clips and images today.
One the most notable aspects of the film would be that amount of special affect Chaplin and his crew would create during the making of this film. For shooting the scene of the miners climbing the moutain, six hundred extras, were brought by train, to clamber up the 2300ft pass dug through the mountain snow. For the main the shots, Chaplin returned to the Hollywood studio, where he and his crew built miniature mountain range out of timber, chicken wire, burlap, plaster, salt and flour. In addition, many miniatures were made shoot the scene of the cabin teetering over edge and the eventual scene of it being blown off. This also included making a miniature Chaplin for the scene of him hanging on to the door of the cabin on the edge of the mountain. The crew shot scenes so well that one can barley recognize the difference between life size and miniature.
Today, The Gold Rush appears as one of Chaplin's most perfectly accomplished films. Though he himself was inclined to be changeable in his affections for his own work, to the end of his life he would frequently declare that of all his films, this was the one by which he would most wish to be remembered.