Romantic adventures of a group of people kidnapped in India and taken to an idyllic civilization in the mountains surrounding China.
Genre: Feature Film-Drama
Release Date: 31-AUG-1999
Media Type: DVD
My husband and I love this movie! It's probably one of the best movies for the time period.
Almost A Lost Film
Steven W. Hill | Chicago, IL United States | 12/22/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"LOST HORIZON is a very special and very philosophical movie based on the James Hilton novel. The movie makes a few changes from the book, but in many ways the film actually improves on the novel, not the least of which is having the great Ronald Colman flesh out the part of Robert Conway. It's not Colman's most memorable performance (see TALE OF TWO CITIES for that) but he wears the part like a comfortable suit. Supporting him are some other great players like Edward Everett Horton, Thomas Mitchell, Sam Jaffe and Isabel Jewell to name a few. What would YOUR reaction be when you discover that the commandeered airplane that took you to a mysterious, beautiful land in the middle of the wintry Himalayas was not an accident, but a plan? The lost world of Shangri-La is something different to everyone, and it's not always a land of bliss and happiness as you'll see. The film itself has gone through many difficult years, and the painstaking reconstruction (sometimes down to still frames with audio) receives a fine presentation on DVD. It's the restoration and the extras that make the disc worth viewing. A brief section shows how some frames were restored, and we get to see some rare pristine footage of the funeral procession. A good feature commentary and documentary are also included. Overall, then, it's a fine film and a fine DVD supplying fine extras. What's not fine? Well, it's only fair to comment on the extremely variable quality of the image (as I said, it's a combination of several decent prints, some 16mm prints and the occasional still-frame section). That's not the fault of Columbia, as it is most likely the best they could do. But upon comparison to my VHS tape of the restored film, I was surprised to see that the quality is only *slightly* better, not dramatically better. That's why I say in all fairness that it's really the extras that make it worthwhile, but that's coming from someone who already had a video copy of the restored film in his collection. If you've never seen the film, I recommend it unreservedly."
A "Lost Horizon" Which Was Almost Lost Itself
Terry Knapp | Santa Rosa, CA United States | 12/10/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have loved this film and the James Hilton novel upon which it is based since I was a child. "Lost Horizon" is one of the truly great moviegoing experiences. I think we all want to believe in Shangri-La, a paradise which brings out the best in mortals, offering a chance of redemption.The film has a great cast: Ronald Colman (what a voice!), lovely Jane Wyatt, Thomas Mitchell, H.B. Warner, Edward Everett Horton, Sam Jaffe and the almost forgotten (but very good) Isabel Jewell - she also appeared with Colman in "A Tale of Two Cities."The set design has to be seen to be truly appreciated. Shangri-La is a prime example of Art Deco at it's most beautiful. The film, as it exists today, is a bit like Frankenstein's monster, stitched together from a wide variety of sources, some of them in better condition than others. The story of the quarter-century restoration of the film is a fascinating example of the dedication to see a project through to it's completion.The only complaint I have about the film, and it's a minor one, is about the number of expository sequences in the film. It seems that one character or another is always talking about what has gone on or what is going on. H.B. Warner's character, in particular, seems to exist for the most part to explain the backstory of Shangri-La. But that's, as I said, a minor complaint. This is a superb motion picture."
Great DVD presentation of a cinema classic!!
Joe NY | 10/25/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Frank Capra's LOST HORIZON is finally given its due on DVD. This is the most complete version of this great film available. The source material varies from excellent to barely watchable, but at least it is complete. Some sections are represented with still frames as the footage still remains missing. This is quite frustrating as the movie was photographed so beautifully, but Columbia Pictures did very little to keep the negatives complete and in good condition. So we should be thankful LOST HORIZON looks as good as it does. The cast, with the exception of John Howard (David Niven should have played Howard's part) is flawless. Ronald Colman was one of Hollywood's greatest actors. One never tires from watching and "listening" to his performance. This great DVD includes an insightful commentary shared by Charles Champlin and Kendall Miller who discuss the making of the movie along with its arduous restoration. A good 30 minute documentary covers the making of the movie (some aspects are duplicated from the commentary track). Also included are some deleted sequences, a still file with Kendall's narration and a teaser trailer. It would have been wonderful if Dimitri Tiomken's great score could have been isolated, but this may not have been possible given the quality of the source material. Get LOST HORIZON on DVD, you won't be disappointed. It is definetly a classic worth keeping."
Welcome to "Shangri-La" the Fantasy Classic. Now on DVD!
forrie | Nashua, NH United States | 01/29/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"James Hiltons novel "Lost Horizon" has been beautifully transferred into a Classic 1930's Fantasy film under the Direction of Frank Capra and Columbia Pictures.This film was almost lost forever due to film deterioration and studio neglect. After years of gathering every known bit of film and audio tracks we have a digitally restored "Directors Cut" 132 minute film. With all the best prints & audio available we have a wonderful film presentation to enjoy forever.This is a collectors DVD! Hollywood film at its best!Summary: English hero and popular Diplomat Robert Conway (Ronald Coleman)is due to return to England from China for a very important diplomatic appointment. A revolt occurs and Conway must make a hasty departure to Shanghai by airplane before being captured. Surprisingly he & his fellow passengers are high jacked & kidnapped to Tibet. The aircraft crash lands in the snow ravaged Himilayan mountains. Mysteriously they are rescued almost immediately in a blizzard. They are dressed warmly and escorted to this utopian valley of "Shangri-La". A place where time is almost frozen and the aging process is slowed drastically. Conway finds that he was intentionally brought here. Why? A very curious situation. The the story of "Shangri-La begins. This tale is a Classic one which even today stands the test of time. Now digitally restored to the Directors Cut of 132 minutes. The extras are informative & loaded with historical information about the film.A family film classic to enjoy for generations thanks to the dedication of film restoration teams & the American Film Institute (AFI). Enjoy."
Painstaking Restoration of a Rarely Seen Classic Reflects Tr
Ed Uyeshima | San Francisco, CA USA | 08/01/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"One of my favorite books growing up was James Hilton's classic 1933 book, "Lost Horizon", and I believe it motivated a great deal of my current wanderlust. Even though I have had the misfortune of seeing the disastrous 1973 musical remake when I was young, the original 1937 film adaptation has been a film I have wanted to see for years, but for whatever reason, it was next to impossible to uncover. Apparently, bastardized versions have shown up on TV through the years. Now we are fortunate to have this 1999 restoration spearheaded by UCLA film archivist Robert Gitt to match as closely as possible to Frank Capra's original 132-minute running time.
Similar to what was done with George Cukor's "A Star Is Born", "Lost Horizon" is presented with its complete soundtrack, but missing footage had to be found through other sources, even 16-mm prints recorded from TV broadcasts, and in a few scenes, production stills were sadly the only option to fill in the gaps. Consequently, there is a variable quality to the print, but when one thinks that much of this footage could have been completely lost, the visual lapses are more than forgivable. Now that I have seen Capra's vision of the book, I can now understand why it's a cinematic classic though I have to concede not as timeless as one would hope.
The fanciful plot centers on Robert Conway, a top-level English diplomat about to become the Foreign Secretary, who helps refugees and assorted others from war-ravaged China. A motley crew of passengers led by Conway boards a plane that is skyjacked toward the Himalayas where it crash lands in a desolate spot of Tibet. They are eventually met by a sect of locals who takes them to a paradise called Shangri-La. The focus of the story then becomes how each of the plane survivors responds to this utopian existence. With his instantly recognizable mellifluous tone, Ronald Colman is perfectly cast as Conway, the only one who embraces this seemingly perfect haven from the outset. He captures the natural curiosity and open romanticism of his character with his trademark erudite manner.
The rest of the cast is a gallery of stock characters fleshed out by the variable quality of the performances. H.B. Warner plays Chang with the requisite serenity of his vague, mysterious character; and Jane Wyatt - two decades before playing the perfect suburban wife and mother in "Father Knows Best" - is surprisingly saucy as Sondra, the young schoolteacher who has Conway brought to Shangri-La. She even has a brief nude swimming scene. John Howard unfortunately overplays the thankless role of Conway's obstreperous brother George to the point where I groan every time he appears onscreen. A similar feeling comes over me when I see Edward Everett Horton's overly pixilated and fey turn as Lovett and Sam Jaffe's bug-eyed, ethereal High Lama. Isabel Jewell and Thomas Mitchell fare better as a dying prostitute and a fugitive swindler, respectively.
The set designs for the Shangri-La lamasery by Stephen Goossón are intriguing in that they look like a post-modern tribute to Frank Lloyd Wright's prairie architecture, though one could argue that the exteriors also resemble a fancy Miami Beach resort hotel. I also imagine that the isolationist philosophy espoused by the High Lama may have been at odds with pre-WWII patriotic fervor, though the more lingering problem is the racism apparent in the casting (e.g., non-Asians like Warner playing inscrutable Asians) and the portrayal of the Tibetan porters as gun-toting derelicts. However, for all its flaws, the movie has some really stunning camerawork by Joseph Walker, surprisingly masterful special effects (for a near-poverty row studio like Columbia), Dmitri Tiomkin's stirring musical score and a powerful sense of mysticism that gives the film a genuine soul. It is no accident that Capra, the most idealistic of the master filmmakers, helmed this movie because a more cynical mindset could have easily sabotaged the entire venture.
The DVD is a wonderful package. First, there is a fascinating photo montage documentary with narration provided by film historian Kendall Miller, which gives a true feeling of how Capra approached the production. Gitt and film critic Charles Champlin provide audio commentary on an alternate track of the film with Gitt very informative about the exhaustive restoration process and Champlin more in awe of the result. There is even an alternative ending included that Columbia chief Harry Cohn insisted on filming and using upon release, but it had thankfully been dropped two weeks later. This is a genuine treat for cinemaphiles, as there are few films that make such a compelling case for seeking out one's personal utopia."