Lost Horizon

"Extraordinary"

Lost Horizon Review


The weirdest film by Frank Capra, this epic was adapted from James Hilton's bestselling novel about a plane full of passengers stranded in Tibet who are brought to the imaginary utopia Shangri-la. (Hilton's sensational fantasy was inspired by mountaineering trips to the Himalayas -- pretty much unknown then -- and it probably still influences how people in the West think about Tibet.)

Lost Horizon is a strange but haunting mixture of drama, long expository passages, and romance, with lavish, Xanadu-like sets set against stock footage of icy mountains -- but the performance of Ronald Colman carries the movie. Colman's character is a Brit who decides he doesn't mind hanging with the Buddhists and enjoying the quiet life, but some of his companions are unhappy in the worker's paradise and debate whether to try to escape. Sensuality is provided by the young Jane Wyatt, later the matron on TV's Father Knows Best (Wyatt's character is even shown in a distant frontal nude scene, a wink at the Hays Code).

Years after its release, Lost Horizon became slightly controversial because the depiction of Shangri-la had communist overtones (it was also accused of being pro-Chinese, which seems ironic... if anything, it would be pro-Tibetan). Some important scenes were cut out in response to criticism and some have never been found and restored, so available versions now show several minutes of still photographs where there is no surviving print while the audio plays. Bizarre methodology, but strangely, it works (several minutes is not a big chunk of this long film, which originally ran over three hours).

Actually, the subtext of Lost Horizon is not utopian: the stated purpose of Shangri-la is to create an island of civilization amid the social decline and wars to come, and to someday provide the nucleus for a "new renaissance" (a sci-fi trope later borrowed by Isaac Asimov's Foundation stories). This is a pretty serious theme -- chilling when you consider that the film was released only two years before Hitler began marching across Europe, and still relevant today.

Though it's often slow-paced and the only surviving versions are fragmented, Lost Horizon is a strangely dreamlike, intelligent cinematic vision; more than most classic films, it has stayed with me over time.



Lost Horizon

Facts and Figures

Run time: 97 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 1st September 1937

Budget: $4M

Distributed by: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Production compaines: Columbia Pictures Corporation

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
Fresh: 10

IMDB: 7.9 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer:

Starring: as Robert " Bob " Conway, as Sondra Bizet, as Alexander P. " Lovey " Lovett, as George Conway, as Henry Barnard, as Maria, as Gloria Stone, H.B. Warner as Chang, as High Lama

Also starring: ,

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Life Movie Review

Life Movie Review

Like a mash-up of Alien and Gravity, this ripping sci-fi horror movie is very effective...

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

Based on a true story, it's the historical aspect of these events that holds the...

Chips Movie Review

Chips Movie Review

It's clear from the very start that this movie has little to do with the...

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

This remake of Disney's 1991 classic is remarkably faithful, using present-day digital animation effects to...

The Salesman Movie Review

The Salesman Movie Review

Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi won his second Oscar with this astute drama which, like 2011's...

Get Out Movie Review

Get Out Movie Review

Leave it to a comedian to make one of the scariest movies in recent memory....

Personal Shopper Movie Review

Personal Shopper Movie Review

After winning a series of major awards for her role in Olivier Assayas' Clouds of...

Advertisement
Certain Women Movie Review

Certain Women Movie Review

In films like Wendy and Lucy and Meek's Cutoff, writer-director Kelly Reichardt has told sharply...

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

After the success of 2014's Godzilla reboot, the Warner Bros monsters get their own franchise,...

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Filmmaker Gurinder Chada (Bend It Like Beckham) draws on her own family history to explore...

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

With an extra dose of attitude and energy, this Irish comedy-drama hits us like a...

Logan Movie Review

Logan Movie Review

Hugh Jackman returns to his signature role one last time (so he says), reuniting with...

Patriots Day Movie Review

Patriots Day Movie Review

The third time's a charm for Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, who previously teamed...

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

It's no surprise that this creep-out horror thriller is packed with whizzy visual invention, since...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.