Lost Horizon - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Lost Horizon Reviews

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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.
½ June 16, 2012
A true classic. They tried to remake it once but it stunk like a porta-potty in August. One of the great films of the Golden Age.
May 29, 2012
After modestly produced but immensely successful dramas like "It Happened One Night" and "Mr. Deeds Goes to Town", Frank Capra's ambitious, large-scale adaptation of the James Hilton novel "Lost Horizon" proved a consequential artistic risk that thankfully was not without reward. The first act - wherein a group of airplane passengers are flown deep into the Himalayas by a mysterious kidnapper - is dominated by intrigue, a mood not often associated with Capra's brand, but it really works well here. They are seemingly rescued from the wreckage of their crashed plan and led back to the idyllic mountain city of Shangri-La, a magnificently constructed environment that brought production designer Stephen Goosson a well deserved Academy Award. The second act, without a strong central conflict, feels like a long one to sit through, but brings up thought-provoking questions about perceptions of paradise and the hollowness or fullness of one's existence.
½ April 28, 2012
Frank Capra creates a great classic film about the idea of utopia.
½ April 14, 2012
A lost Frank Capra fantasy adventure about Shangri-la and it's pretty awesome. Ronald Colman leads the cast.
March 26, 2012
Frank Capra directs this fantasy-adventure of a group of English refugees fleeing an uprising in China. The plane is commandeered, crashing deep into unexplored Tibet. The passengers are led to a fantastic city cradled in a valley - it truly seems to be the legendary Shangi-La, where the citizens live in peace. Unfortunately, the middle section bogs down, consisting mainly of the characters viewing the splendor and struggling to believe that it's true. There's no real conflict until the final third, when Robert Conway (Ronald Coleman) has to choose whether or not to leave. The overall story is affecting, heartfelt and sincere, and while I'm glad I saw the longest version possible, I understand why subsequent releases were shorter and shorter.
January 15, 2012
One of my favourite all time movies, great characters, great script and great visuals. It is important to see the restored version as much of its pacifist message was edited out during the second world war. Ronald Coleman in one of his finest roles, a film on a grand scale with messages of hope for all. Timeless.
December 2, 2011
One can dream......Ah that voice of Colman's. Chang is played by the actor who portrayed Christ in 1927's silent King Of Kings, H B Warner.
November 29, 2011
So bizarre and different it's a little piece of heaven.... Strangely relevant today.
October 10, 2011
A true classic, even as I now realize in the shorter version. I look forward to viewing the original.
September 6, 2011
Outstanding classic movie. Capra does an incredible job coveying a feeling of well being through film. Plus they use a clip from the plane scene in the Opus and Bill Christmas movie, "A Wish For Wings That Work", so that is awesome too.
½ August 15, 2011
When originally released this film was over 3 hours long, and opened to disastrous reviews. Took Capra over 2 years to make, and then was shortened and chopped to versions 95 to 120 minutes long. The "restored version" tries to keep intact as much as the original, and still seems lengthy, in this odd but intriguing film. Idealistic in its presentation, falls just short of being a classic.
½ August 14, 2011
Not Typical Capra, Anyway

There are some fictional places known more for their name than their origin. I doubt one person in ten knows the origin of "Utopia," and I doubt one in a thousand has read the book. Goodness knows I haven't, haven't ever really wanted to. It's something about Saint Thomas Moore, really; his last words amuse me, but I don't think I actually want to read his writing. Similarly, I have never actually read the novel [i]Lost Horizon[/i], wherein Shangri-La appears. James Hilton, the author, was influenced by the actual Buddhist tradition of Shambhala, but in the decades since the book came out, it is Hilton's spelling which has come to dominate Western thinking. I think most people know kind of vaguely that Shangri-La is supposedly in Tibet, but I doubt most of them know why--or care.

There is an uprising in China. A planeful of Westerners, mostly British, are making their escape. Only they are flying east, into the heart of Asia, not west, to Shanghai. (I think.) The plane stops only once to refuel, and then they take off again, only to crash high in the Himalayas. There, they are rescued by natives and taken to the sheltered valley of Shangri-La. Among the travelers is Robert Conway (Ronald Colman), intended to be the next British Foreign Secretary. It turns out that Shangri-La is a place of magic powers, a place where there is no illness and where youth lasts centuries. However, the High Lama (Sam Jaffe) is at long last dying, and he has brought Conway and the others to Shangri-La so that Conway will replace him. Unfortunately, Conway's younger brother, George (John Howard), is not so satisfied with Shangri-La as the others. He, along with the lovely Maria (Margo), wants to return to civilization--and he wants the older Conway to come.

Honestly, the best part of the movie is Edward Everett Horton as the stuffy paleontologist. He has made a discovery in the Chinese highlands of a megatherium fossil, which will overturn quite a lot of paleontology. (Actually, he's quite right about that, though I don't know it he should have been knighted over it. Currently, the megatherium is exclusively known to have inhabited the Americas, and finding one in Asia would be astonishing.) He seems stuffy. He probably always has been.. But the air of Shangri-La loosens him up. This means that we get both delightful types of Edward Everett Horton behaviour. We get him as the intellectual who has a hard time remembering that not everyone knows as much as he does, and we have the slightly goofy man attempting to entertain children with stories. He is, to me, on that long list of "actors I love and have to identify to practically everyone."

The movie, of course, has the casual kind of racism you get from this era. Despite the fact that Shangri-La is a repository for all the world's knowledge, it takes the arrival of Henry Barnard (Thomas Mitchell) to bring in plumbing. So okay; that might be a place where the skill is important. But the High Lama isn't Tibetan. We're not even talking things like how Chang is played by H. B. Warner--not one of [i]those[/i] Warners, one of a distinguished family of British actors. We're talking the character, who is from Luxembourg, of all places. And when the High Lama is dying, he sends for an Englishman. There is also a disregard of the life of the pilot--actually, both pilots. They were supposed to have been flown in by an English-speaking pilot, who disappears from the movie without a trace, and the Tibetan pilot dies bringing them to Shangri-La, we never know quite how or why. Because, I suppose, he might tell Our Heroes what was going on before they were supposed to know.

In a way, it could be said that most Capra, or at any rate most of the best-known Capra, is about a longing for Shangri-La. George Bailey wants to travel to find it only to discover that Bedford Falls will do just as well. John Doe is seeking Shangri-La for all of us, and Jeff Smith is creating camps of it for boys. Similarly, the fondness a lot of people have for Capra's films comes from imagining a fanciful world where nothing goes too very wrong. In the end, Good always triumphs over Evil. Gloria (Isabel Jewell) may be a tough woman of dubious reputation, but she's good at heart and can't be allowed to die of what's probably tuberculosis. (She has a cough and six months to live.) Henry didn't mean to scam his investors, and he can do better helping the villagers of Shangri-La than he would in an American jail. It'll all turn out right in the end, in the Land of Capra.
½ July 29, 2011
Enjoyable, straight-faced utopia of the sort that was only possible before 1939.
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