Lost Horizon Reviews

Page 2 of 11
½ May 16, 2015
I have owned this on VHS for many years but watching it again now, it seems rather long and drawn out. The story (from James Hilton) is a good one. The British foreign secretary (Ronald Colman), sick of war and conflict, is lost in the Himalayas when his plane is hijacked and goes down. There he finds (or is found by) the Lamas of Shangri-La who live in a peaceful idyllic community protected on all sides by mountains. Somehow there is no stress, no sickness, no strife - humans have everything they need. Colman and some notable character actors (Thomas Mitchell, Edward Everett Horton) grow to realize that Shangri-La is better than the world outside. But yet some of the plane crash survivors and even some residents of the valley wish to leave. Colman helps them but then finds that he can't face ordinary human society and (we learn in a third person rendering) he does everything he can to make the incredibly arduous journey back to the peaceable theocracy. Director Frank Capra avoids the big issues and just lets the characters spout some platitudes. Maybe the film's heart is in the right place but last night it seemed just too fantastic.
October 15, 2012
It has many scenes that are detours and slow the pace significantly adding little to the story, but Lost Horizon has a very interesting and intriguing story filled with excellent thoughts and ideas, quite solid humor, fine performances and sympathetic characters. It also has very good if dragged first act and a plot that benefits from evident attention to detail and good dialogue. It has its problems and it is of course nowhere near Capra's best works, but is is a charming and interesting film with a great, thematically rich and clever story and a setting that seems authentic and rare for the period.
½ January 17, 2015
Buena escenografía, especialmente las escenas en la nieve lo mejor de la pelicula
January 11, 2015
"Lost Horizon" is a fantasy dream of epic proportions, making for an appealing blend of blithesome pleasures and complex symbolism. From one side, it's a beautifully photographed adventure in the same vein of a Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger collaboration, but on the other, it has the cerebral heaviness of a playful "Metropolis."
Directed by Frank Capra, master of the feel-good masterpiece ("It Happened One Night," "It's a Wonderful Life"), "Lost Horizon" was the result of a passion project, marred by serious budgeting and running time issues. Originally, the film was nearly six hours in length, with an ardent Capra shooting every scene from an overzealous number of angles. For a scene lasting just four minutes, Capra would use over 6,000 feet of film, the amount normally used for an hour's worth of photography. The budget swelled to almost $3 million, thanks to the extensive use of exterior shots and the hazardous dilemmas caused by the snowy sets. I could go on, but a happy ending is in store, and, if you're more curious than you'd like to admit, Wikipedia is readily available.
Ultimately, Capra, along with Columbia boss Harry Cohn cuts hours upon hours of footage, much of it lost over the years. The film was restored in 1999 and again in 2013, inserting still pictures in certain scenes to fill in gaps left by regrettable cuts. Presently, "Lost Horizon" is a woozy combination of crisp repairs, slightly murky discoveries, and awkwardly placed pictures. In many cases, impartiality can be highly destructive. "Lost Horizon" is one of the lucky ones. It's so self-assured in nearly every other category that the cruelty it was once thrust into in the editing room is completely forgivable. Capra despaired over the film until the day he died, but it's hard to believe that a movie as stimulating and as effortlessly paced as this one could have been marked by even the slightest of a difficulty. It's a forgotten classic.
Adapted from James Hilton's 1933 novel of the same name, the film focuses on five refugees who escape a violent revolution in China. After a long night of flying, Alexander Lovett (Edward Everett Horton), the stuffy intellectual of the group, looks out the window as is astonished by what he sees - it appears that they are traveling in the completely opposite direction of their destination. They have been kidnapped.
The plane eventually crashes in an undiscovered zone in the Himalayas, killing the pilot. The group is quickly discovered by a Chinese caravan, who then leads them to an oasis within the mountain range, known as Shangri-La. Shangri-La is ethereal, to say the least. It's an entrance to an entirely new world, where the skies are always sunny, the flowers are always in bloom, the people are always good-hearted, and aging isn't a consideration. The leader of the group, Robert Conway (Ronald Colman) is instantly smitten - but will he, along with his fellow travelers, last in this too-good-to-be-true idyllic land?
Films in the 1930s were almost strictly uplifting, dressed to the nines in screwball comedies, musicals, and set designs that suggested that poverty didn't exist and even the nobodies could afford butlers and caviar. Turn to any Rogers & Astaire pairing, any Ernst Lubitsch romp - that was 90% of what audiences were used to. Everyone wanted a break from The Great Depression, after all.
"Lost Horizon" retains the uplifting persona of the era, but avoids all the first class garbage that felt delicious at first but eventually left a bad taste in your mouth. It is, first and foremost, an adventure film, making you feel like a child again at every turn. Shangri-La is a bewitching world that makes the fantasy genre seem delightful all over again, and the fact that it lies somewhere deep in the Himalayas makes it all the more special, all the more untouchably engaging. It is heaven for people who have goodness in their hearts, but it's a hell for those who are too self-serving and sinful. But forget all the heaven and hell comparisons - "Lost Horizon" is escapism of the highest common denominator. You'll want to be swept away, not sit there with analytical expectations.
Much of the film's success is largely due to Capra, who, despite the setbacks he faced while filming, makes a movie so easy to devour that you can't help but want to have more. He's always been able to piece together a popcorn film with brains, but "Lost Horizon" is certainly his most ambitious moment. Though his own unrealistic goals pushed film's budget to places it couldn't afford, the result is something of a wonder. The sets are absolutely stunning, combing Asian decor with art deco modernness, and the photography, however indulgent it may be, is lively and plenty dreamy, the black-and-white giving it an innocent, fantastical ambiance.
"Lost Horizon" could have been damaged goods, but it overcomes those damages and becomes goods for the ages. Capra may have sweat a bullet or two, but one can hardly remember "It's a Wonderful Life" when swept up into the luster of "Lost Horizon."
December 6, 2014
Based on the novel by James Hilton that added "Shangri-La" to the lexicon, and directed by Frank Capra, it is a story about a famous diplomat played by Ronald Coleman, whose plane is hijacked and taken to a hidden valley in the Himalayas, where the weather is perfect, and people are kind and live to be hundreds of years old with very little aging. With Thomas Mitchell and Edward Everett Horton.
November 23, 2014
'Here's to the hope that we all may find Shangri-La'... Painstaking Restoration of a Rarely Seen Classic Reflects True Vision--A remarkable, spiritually significant film; of special interest to anyone interested in the evolution of humanity's awareness of Shamballa... Capra adapts James Hilton's Utopian novel with grace and beauty!!
August 17, 2014
This film is done on a scale that is more grand and science fiction then most films from the time. There is a ton of production value behind this movie and it shows. It has one of the most attention grabbing and intriguing openings to a film you will ever see. It's so good you could almost make a movie off of that alone. It's the kind of movie that keeps you guessing at the truth, or if the truth really matters. It also caused many internal debates when I put myself in the main character or other passenger's situations. I would also call this movie very prophetic, in a time long before the atomic bomb part of this films message feels right at home with many of the 60's and 70's films about fear of nuclear holocaust. All of these elements and topics I find very intriguing personally so I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. With so many interesting political, social and philosophical questions and it one great concept I found myself thinking about this film for days, one of the biggest signs of a good movie. I am still not sure what decision I would make if I were in the characters shoes. If this film does have a problem it's that the female lead is an over the top helpless emotional caricature. This film definitely had an influence on some later films (logans run, solaris, inception, the beach) and tv shows (lost, the prisoner, star trek). I guess the book deserves most of the credit for being so ahead of its time although I am not sure how closely the movie follows it.
March 16, 2014
A wonderful film about all of our searches for the perfect life. Shangri-La is everyones dream, and for one man it came true.
Super Reviewer
½ December 11, 2013
Pieces of this are missing but it is nonetheless compelling. Ronald Colman's trip to Shangra La is helped with the black and white and mystery about a time from another place and era. Certainly not up to modern film standards but interesting.
September 15, 2013
I got to see the restored version before anyone wonders! Very interesting as an important piece of cinema history but otherwise very boring and quite annoying. Either this is satire or its a very blatant and primitive apology for the rich. Apparently Utopia is a place were lords rule in finery over surfs who happily do all the back breaking work to keep them in their privileged positions. If you ever wondered how the super rich might rationalize their positions if they are ever pricked by conscience then the notion of Shangri la in Lost Horizon may provide you with an answer. The terribly dated acting doesn't help either. Describing this movie as a classic is just lazy.
August 19, 2013
a movie of transformation. Ronald Coleman at his best. Great supporting actors
July 28, 2013
My Favorite Film Is 1941's Citizen Kane.
June 4, 2013
Boasting great production values, Frank Capra's film is still one of the most cherished fables made during the Depression era.
March 29, 2013
Seeing it again, after 76 years (yes, this octogenarian writer is 83), the restored film is still unquestionably quite remarkable. Of course, Hilton's fantasy/utopia is framed on the literary theme that a disparate group of travelers thrown together have unusual experiences together and separately. Remember Chaucer, for example? Hilton's novel allows the reader breathing space to visualize at will the characters and settings. Translating the novel into the film medium proved frustrating for Capra and all concerned. --However, today's audiences should not quickly dismiss it as old-fashioned schlock. In spite of what might be considered heavy-handed and obvious bits of dialogue, the quest for a civilized, peaceful existence is movingly presented. Surely it remains one of the best products of Hollywood and thanks to Capra it went on to be of interest globally. The struggle was definitely worth it.
March 23, 2013
A simple look at the fundamentals of human goals and accomplishments. A group of British men and an American woman find themselves in the lost paradise of Shangri-La. The beautiful paradise changes each one of them, except for a select few who would rather try to escape and view it as a prison. It has an ambiguous but fitting ending with a nice theme of human happiness and perspective.
February 3, 2013
Struggles a bit with pacing but there are a number of good performances and the production design is gorgeous.
½ December 29, 2012
An epic near-masterpiece, both groundbreaking and relentless in it's vision. Superbly acted, wonderfully created and brought to the screen thanks to the bravery of Frank Capra and the writing of Riskin and Hilton. A phenomenal result for the 1930's.
November 27, 2012
Enjoyable fantastical tale from Frank Capra, master of the optimism on film. I just wish it had survived to this day completely intact.
½ October 23, 2012
Great. What inspiration and hope this must have given in the post depression years. Very much a Capra feel good movie and that is exactly how it left me feeling.
½ September 29, 2012
Capra's classic romantic fantasy has lost a little of its gleam in the intervening years but as a piece of humanistic escapism, it still leaves an impression.
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