It took British author James Hilton six weeks to write his visionary novel Lost Horizon. It took director Frank Capra two years-and half of his home studio Columbia's annual budget-to bring it to the screen. After a lengthy preamble, inviting audiences to imagine their own ideas of Utopia, the film opens on a chaotic scene at a Chinese airfield. As hordes of bandits approach, hundreds of refugees scramble to board the last plane out. Only five people make it: Mildly disenchanted Far Eastern diplomat Robert Conway (Ronald Colman), his hotheaded younger brother George (John Howard), embezzler Barnard (Thomas Mitchell), dithery fossil expert Lovett (Edward Everett Horton) and consumptive prostitute Gloria Stone (Isabel Jewell). As the plane flies off towards the Himalayas, Robert realizes that he and his fellow passengers are heading in the wrong direction. They are, in fact, being kidnapped-but why? And where to? The plane crash-lands in the snowy Tibetan interior. The pilot is killed, but the passengers are safe. By and by, a strange caravan approaches, led by an enigmatic Chinese named Chang (H. B. Warner). Joining the caravan, Conway and his party are led through a treacherous mountain pass and into a land of temperate weather and dazzling beauty. This is Shangri-La, the idyllic lamasery presided over by the aged, wizened High Lama (Sam Jaffe). In this fertile valley, people are not encumbered by such exigencies as crime, dictators and hatred; instead, everyone is devoted to the pursuit of wisdom and self-improvement-and best of all, the aging process has been slowed to a walk, allowing people to live well past the two-century mark. Though he still does not know why he was brought here, Conway is quicker to adapt to Shangri-La than his wary fellow passengers. He even falls in love with Sondra (Jane Wyatt), an attractive, intelligent young woman. Finally granted an audience with the High Lama, Conway discovers that the old man is actually Father Perrault, the Belgian missionary who founded Shangri-La-over two hundred years earlier. Dying, the High Lama has selected Conway, whose idealism and even-handedness is world famous, to succeed him-and hopefully spread the "love thy neighbor" edict of Shangri-La to the rest of the war-torn world. Conway is willing to assume leadership, but younger brother George, his mind poisoned by spiteful Shangri-La resident Maria (Margo), insists upon escaping to the outside world. The older Conway warns that, despite her youthful appearance, Maria is well past sixty and will surely perish once she leaves Shangri-La; but Maria retorts that the high lama is insane, and that everything he has told Conway is a lie. Disillusioned, Conway agrees to leave with Jack and Maria. The trek back to civilization is a grueling one, especially for Maria, who-true to Conway's prediction-shrivels from age and dies. Appalled that he has been misled, George kills himself. Weeks later, and amnesiac Conway stumbles into a Tibetan mission, where he is rescued and brought back to England. When his memory is restored, however, Conway runs back to Shangri-La, and into the arms of Sondra. When Lost Horizon was shown to preview audiences, it ran nearly three hours-and it was a disaster. In his autobiography, Capra claims to have rescued his pet project by merely burning the first two reels and opening the film with the evacuation scene; In fact, while Capra did remove the film's "flashback" framework, he made most of his cuts in the body of the picture. The release length of Lost Horizon was 132 minutes, pared down to 119 when it when into general distribution. When it was reissued in the 1940s and 1950s, it was rather clumsily pared down to anywhere from 95 to 100 minutes. Only in the mid-1980s was Lost Horizon restored to its original length, with stills used to illustrate certain scenes for which only the soundtrack existed. While not the enormous hit Capra and Columbia had hoped it would be, Lost Horizon was popular enough to allow the name "Shangri-La" enter the household-word category. In 1973, producer Ross Hunter felt the urge to inflict a wretched musical remake onto an unsuspecting public.
Lost Horizon 4.6 out of 5based on
More than 1 year ago
This restored true classic is oneof the best around! The bonusinformation is not only interesting,but inspiring -- the work thatwent into it warms the heart. It'sgreat when the industry takes careof one of its own! A lot of effortwent into the research and restoration of this movie. There aredeleted scenes as well as thealternative ending, which is rarefor the period the movie was made.The story itself is one that canprovoke great conversation amonglike-minded friends. I've read thebook, also a classic, which addsmore insight into the storyline.This particular DVD is THE one toget and this picture is one thatmust go into your movie library!
More than 1 year ago
I might have liked Lost Horizon better if I had not recently watched Things to Come. I have watched Lost Horizon several times before, but this time I took a more critical stance. However, as a spectacle in and of itself, the film is beautiful, and Capra's masterful direction is put to full use. The acting is fine, and the substitution of stills for missing footage in no way harms the finisheed product. Nevertheless, there is a disturbing message in this film, which Ronald Colman condenses in a speech about war. What if, he opines, we just lay down our arms? The other fellows would see we were unarmed, and by example lay down their arms as well. You would end up with, he implies, Shangri-La. Lost Horizon premiered two years before WWII, and in hindsight, its Chamberlain approach and attitude is chilling. There is a tacit nod toward collectivism, communism, and by fiat, pacifism instead of freedom. Enjoy the visuals, but don't succomb to the opium smokers vision. I recommend Dragon Seed.
More than 1 year ago
My only complaint of this recording is that it is not complete. It has the exact ending, pieces are missing that have been replaced by photographs and the sound recording, An exhaustive search was done to reconstruct the original film. Film libraries all over the world were used to search for pieces missing that might make it whole. It doesn't lack continuity, it never breaks up the thread of the screenplay. As a matter of fact whenever a photograph is used the sound recording for that scene is intact and played accordingly. A slight annoyance for such a masterpiece of a film.
It's an inexpensive addition to anyone's film library. The money spent is worthwhile and recommended to anyone. The message is eternal and applies to all people. Anyone who hasn't seen the film has missed out on an experience both emotional and spiritual. It implores mankind to seek the highest road and to settle for nothing short of excellence which he is capable of in every way.
More than 1 year ago
The musical was not only not a 'wretched remake', but was a a big hit when it opened in the theaters. I personally loved this one almost as well as the first because it embodied all the same qualities of Hilton's novel as the first. I will admit that it had a tough time living up to the 'perfect' Chang (H. B. Warner) and the absolute perfect (he will never be replaced) Conway (Ronald Coleman). Incidentally, I liked both movies better than the book which I read twice.
More than 1 year ago
Even though the movie has missing film footage due to poor preservation, it still holds the same magic for me that is has since I was in high school.
This debut set of the Starz Original series Camelot redefines the classic medieval tale of
King Arthur with an exciting ensemble cast that includes Joseph Fiennes as the magician Merlin, Jamie Campbell Bower as the young and reckless Arthur, and ...
Based on the popular cartoon character, this family-oriented ghost story is about a not-so-scary spirit
who bonds with a little girl (Christina Ricci). The eternally irritable Ms. Carrigan (Cathy Moriarty) discovers that the only thing she's been left in her ...
This release from the popular British science-fiction series Doctor Who includes all 13 episodes from
the show's fifth season, finding the new, Eleventh Doctor (played by Matt Smith) awakening from his regeneration only to discover the Tardis about to crash ...
In this sci-fi/horror scarefest, Dr. William Weir (Sam Neill) is a scientist who has designed
a spacecraft called Event Horizon which will explore the outer reaches of space past the planet Neptune; the ship employs a special transport mechanism that, ...
One thing that can be said about Warner Bros.' DVD library is that it's consistent;
their discs rarely contain more than filmographies and a theatrical trailer or two. Fortunately, there are exceptions to that rule, and apparently someone within the ...
Jumanji is a visually elaborate fantasy about an enchanted board game that opens a magical
portal to a jungle universe. Two young children, Judy (Kirsten Dunst) and Peter (Bradley Pierce), discover the game in an abandoned home and suddenly are ...
James Hilton's beloved fantasy novel about the land of Shangri-La was given an awkward musical
treatment in this extravagantly produced flop. Larry Kramer's screenplay stays close to the 1937 Frank Capra original, as a plane fleeing China crashes in the ...
A hotshot detective who was killed in the line of duty joins a supernatural police
force that protects the living from the malevolent souls who have escaped judgment in this adaptation of the popular Dark Horse comic book. Nick Walker ...