There is an aura that seems to surround classic films made before the days of computer generated visual effects and intense marketing campaigns. It was a time when motion pictures depended on grand stories, superb performances, and great direction to catapult their success. This was exactly the case of `Lost Horizon,' a film from director Frank Copra (`It's A Wonderful Life'). With elaborate set designs, excellent performances by Ronald Colman, Jane Wyatt, John Howard, Thomas Mitchell, and Edward Everett Horton, `Lost Horizon' is a story of survival and ultimately finding a way home, that cannot be forgotten. `Lost Horizon' is a tale of five castaways who inadvertently find themselves in Shangri-La after their plane crashes in the mountains of Tibet. They are lead into the place of eternal youth, natural beauty, and free from strife by members of the region. They are treated as guests, and although they want to leave and find their way back to the world as they know it, porters are hard to find. It all leads to a notion that none of them want to admit; that they were meant to be in Shangri-La. Out of the thousands of movies that have been produced in the past 100 years, only a few afford of the privilege of remembrance. What's more, only a few seem to survive due to the nature of celluloid prints breaking down over time. A similar problem plagued `Lost Horizon,' in that after decades of worthy theatrical re-issues, the prints depreciated, with many withering away. As such, a preservation program was set in place to save copies of the film. Thanks to the works of countless individuals, this classic has been restored, to a certain degree, with some of the footage missing, replaced by still shots of the actors and recorded dialogue. From a critical standpoint, `Lost Horizon' has stood the test of time to be one of the greatest adventure classics ever produced by Hollywood. What is astonishing about this film is the attention to detail. As the film begins, a battle is taking place somewhere in China where we meet our protagonist, Bob Conway (Coleman). As the film continues, the scene changes to a scene on an airplane where our characters are trying to leave the war torn region. At one point, the crew is at a high altitude where the temperature is very cold. As such, we can see their breath in the shot as they speak. Normally, this kind of feature is ignored as the scene is short, but it adds a touch of realism that can't be denied. Incredible detail went into the creation of Shangri-La. With its large sets, beautiful costume design, the film takes on an epic proportion only rivaled by the grand designs of such Biblical epics as `Ben-Hur,' and `The Ten Commandments.' Truly, director Capra wanted to create an image that audiences would be astounded by?and he truly succeeded.<br/><br/>One can't help but admire the characters-they are all a bit na?ve, but all intriguing in their own ways. Conway (Coleman) is a British diplomat and explorer whose fame is well deserved. His brother, George (Howard) presents a great deal of fear for the unknown Shangri-La. The characters of Henry Barnard (Mitchell) and Alexander P. Lovett (Horton) add a real sense of humor to the film. There are some minor inconsistencies in the story and various tasks that the characters try to pull off, but it's hardly worth complaining about because the film is such a treasure among other films. After 66 years, `Lost Horizon' remains far better than most of the adventure films that play in cinemas nowadays. One can only wish that they could have been present to see this in a theater during its original run. How amazing it would have been to see this epic tale of survival and the human struggle against itself back in 1937. `Lost Horizon' is indeed a remnant from the golden age of cinema. ***1/2
Adventure / Drama
Adventure / Drama
British diplomat Robert Conway and a small group of civilians crash land in the Himalayas, and are rescued by the people of the mysterious, Eden-like valley of Shangri-la. Protected by the mountains from the world outside, where the clouds of World War II are gathering, Shangri-la provides a seductive escape for the world-weary Conway.
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