***WARNING SOME SPOILERS*** This is the one that started it all, before King Kong, Beast From 20,000 Fathoms, Godzilla, Jurassic Park, etc. Nearly eighty years ago, this ambitious silent film was unleashed on an astonished public, the story adapted from the famous novel by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Although there had been silent short subjects featuring prehistoric animals before, The Lost World was the first full-length feature to introduce the concept of such outsized monsters invading a major metropolis. Today, such a plot seems terribly cliched, but it's unfair to judge The Lost World by modern standards- technically or artistically. In fact, if imitation is indeed the sincerest form of flattery, this original version of the Lost World should be blushing from the attention!
Willis O'Brien (who had produced many short animated subjects previously) was the primary resource behind Lost World: without his expertise and participation, the movie would likely never have been completed, or even considered. The film's producers rightly figured audiences would want to see the film primarily for the prehistoric animals, so the human cast took a supporting role. O'Brien and his crew went above and beyond Doyle's story, populating the Lost World with seemingly dozens of creatures, (only a few are mentioned in the novel). The inclusion of more dinosaurs allowed the film to feature them as the primary menaces, instead of the novel's plot of tribal warfare between natives and ape-men. Except for stuntman Bull Montana as the villainous missing link inexplicably traveling in conjunction with a chimpanzee, this portion of the novel was excluded from the film.
The film varies somewhat from Doyle's novel: a group of intrepid explorers accompany the volatile Professor Challenger (Wallace Beery) to a plateau in the jungles of South America. Beery's Challenger is probably the most interesting character in the film. He's a man driven by his convictions and unwilling to back down on his arguments. In several ways, he can be seen as a precursor to King Kong's Carl Denham. Lewis Stone as Sir John Roxton provides the only real subtlety of character, an older man in love with the sole woman of the expedition, Paula White (Bessie Love). Roxton sees his chances for romance fade as Paula falls for Ed Malone (Lloyd Hughes) a younger man who hopes to make his career as a journalist on the expedition. Roxton first conveys dismay at the budding romance, then resignation as he chivalrously bows out of this romantic triangle. It's an unexpected touch of subtlety in a film that is geared towards drama and conflict.
Inevitably- because of this emphasis on the special effects- this romantic subplot seems intrusive. If only the film could have sustained such human interaction, or managed to evoke some compassion in audiences. Sadly, though the effects themselves are quite startling, the pacing and direction of The Lost World are merely serviceable. O'Brien and his crew worked wonders to create the dinosaurs and volcano eruption, but the technical wizardry is let down by the workmanlike, unimaginative direction of Harry Hoyt, who seems completely disconnected to the possibilities inherent in such a plot. Unlike King Kong, which wisely built up suspense and tension when introducing the prehistoric denizens of Skull Island, the dinosaurs in Lost World appear abruptly and without context. The brontosaurus, for instance, is first seen grazing sedately through a simple cut away from the live action, and is not shown in scale with the players until later, almost as an afterthought. The Allosaurus that stalks into the nighttime camp, contrarily, is well handled. With its eyes eerily reflecting the glow of the campfire like a jungle cat's, the dinosaur advances from the darkness towards the explorers. Even here, however, the suspense is dissipated by the fact we've already seen the Allosaurus (or another like it) attacking first a Trachodon, then a Triceratops, so its appearance in the camp is less of a shock. (Its attack, as well, is too brief).
As for the effects themselves, it is obvious that there were many technical bugs that O'Brien worked to improve upon during production: the results are mixed. Sometimes the animation of the monsters is smooth, (most notably with the Brontosaurus running amok in London) but in earlier scenes it is obvious much of the stop motion was shot using two or even three frame exposures between moving the models. This gives the animation an uneven look, and it's odd that these more primitive scenes survived into the final version. It's also strange that a Brontosaurus was selected to be loose in the finale, especially since this sequence wasn't included in the novel. Unlike Kong, the dinosaur doesn't have much motivation other than lumber through the streets. Even the collapse of Tower Bridge seems anticlimactic rather than a spectacle highlight. People are injured, but the dinosaur provides little intentional menace. Had the filmmakers substituted a flesh-eating Allosaurus as the captive that broke loose (as shown in the posters for the film!) it would have provided far more of a threat. (Hmmm, sounds a lot like ANOTHER `Lost World made 72 years later!)
The Lost World has recently been re-released on DVD in a beautifully restored (and much extended) print, culled from several sources. Most of this restored footage is of the human drama, but there are a few significant dinosaur scenes, as well. There is more footage of the dinosaur stampede, and it appears some of the existing animation was replaced by a different `take' of the same scene featured in earlier releases. On the whole, The Lost World is one of the more interesting silent films-- mostly because one can see some of the seeds of King Kong being sown here, seven years before. This version of the Lost World, while perhaps not a true classic like King Kong, nonetheless has its moments. If you're curious about the birth and development of stop-motion, or see what inspired the more recent Jurassic Park films, I'd recommend visiting this Lost World again.
The Lost World
Adventure / Fantasy / Sci-Fi
The Lost World
Adventure / Fantasy / Sci-Fi
s expedition to rescue Maple White, who has been marooned at the top of a high plateau. Joined by hunter John Roxton, and others, the group goes to South America, where they do indeed find a plateau inhabited by pre-historic creatures, one of which they even manage to bring back to London with them.
Uploaded By: FREEMAN
Downloaded 12,423 times
May 26, 2019 at 11:39 AM