This is a superb restored version of this film and is very highly recommended for all those interested in Silent Film era.
Explorer Professor Challenger is taking quite a beating in the London press thanks to his claim that living dinosaurs exist in the far reaches of the Amazon. Newspaper reporter Edward Malone learns that this claim originates from a diary given to him by fellow explorer Maple White's daughter, Paula. Malone's paper funds an expedition to rescue Maple White, who has been marooned at the top of a high plateau. Joined by renowned 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.
Bessie Love ... Miss Paula White (as Miss Bessie Love)
Lewis Stone ... Sir John Roxton (as Mr. Lewis Stone)
Wallace Beery ... Prof. Challenger (as Mr. Wallace Beery)
Lloyd Hughes ... Edward E. Malone (as Mr. Lloyd Hughes)
Alma Bennett ... Gladys Hungerford (as Miss Alma Bennett)
Arthur Hoyt ... Prof. Summerlee (as Mr. Arthur Hoyt)
Margaret McWade ... Mrs. Challenger (as Miss Margaret McWade)
Bull Montana ... Ape-Man (as Mr. Bull Montana)
Frank Finch Smiles ... Austin (Challenger's butler) (as Mr. Frank Smiles)
Jules Cowles ... Zambo (Roxton's servant) (as Mr. Jules Cowles)
George Bunny ... Colin McArdle (as Mr. George Bunny)
Charles Wellesley ... Maj. Hibbard (as Mr. Charles Wellesley)
Jocko the Monkey ... Jocko
Arthur Conan Doyle ... Himself
Director: Harry O. Hoyt
DivX 3 / WMA
More than 80 years after its release, the first adaptation of "The Lost World" remains as one of the most influential silent films ever, due to Willis O'Brien pioneer advances in the field of special effects, as it showcases the first time stop motion animation was used to create creatures on a feature length film. These innovation was of huge importance for this and future films, and earned Willis O'Brien and his dinosaurs a place in history as an iconic image in film history, only surpassed by another of O'Brien's creations: King Kong.
Based on Arthur Conan Doyle's novel of the same name, "The Lost World" is the tale of Prof. Challenger's (Wallace Beery) epic quest looking for the living dinosaurs who supposedly live in the deep Amazonic jungle, according to the journal of his fellow explorer Maple White, who disappeared in his last exploration. Maple's daughter, Paula (Bessie Love) joins the expedition looking for her missing father, as well as Sir John Roxton (Lewis Stone), an experienced hunter friend of Challenger. Prof. Summerlee (Arthur Hoyt) goes as well, hoping to prove that Challenger is a fraud, and finally, reporter Edward Malone (Lloyd Hughes) joins the expedition, hoping to prove his girlfriend Gladys (Alma Bennet) that he is brave enough to face death.
Cleverly adapted by Broadway playwright Marion Fairfax (who also adapted in 1922 another of Conan Doyle's works, "Sherlock Holmes"), the film is an excellent mix of action and adventure that even when it's not entirely faithful to the novel, keeps the spirit of wonder and fascination with the unknown. From the obsessive Challenger to the incredulous Summerlee, every character is very detailed and for the most part well constructed, giving each one of them a defined personality and a certain degree depth absent in many silent films.
However, the film's best remembered characteristic is the incredible special effects by Willis O'Brien, who after mastering his craft in short films got his first work in "The Lost World" and changed special effects forever. His imagery is very vivid, and very detailed considering the limited resources he had. Sadly, Harry O. Hoyt's direction takes zero advantage of Fairfax's story and O'Brien's effects, and delivers a simplistic and unoriginal work that adds nothing to the whole work and seems to let the cast and crew do their job. It's not a bad direction as a whole, but it feels uninterested on the many possibilities a film like this posses.
The cast is quite effective, and really does a great job with what they have, starting with legendary Wallace Beery, who as Prof. Challenger delivers one of the best performances in a silent film. Without the aid of sound, Beery shows a wide range of emotions in his complex character and is great in both drama and comedy. Lloyd Hughes is very good as the cowardly Malone, and showcases a talent for comedy as well as a romantic figure, as his character shows interest in Paula White, played by Bessie Love, who makes a fine counterpart to Hughes and delivers a natural, and fresh performance. Lewis Stone completes the cast and his dignified performance as Sir John Roxton is very effective.
It's safe to say that "The Lost World" owes more to O'Brien and Fairfax than to O'Hoyt, and that probably with a more experienced director the film would had been even better. However, the film's real problem has nothing to do with the way it was made, but with the way it was preserved during most of its history. Nowadays there is not a complete version of the movie, most home video versions are of the 64 minutes version, while one (Image) is of a 93 minutes reconstruction. And while probably that version is the closest we can be to the original runtime of the film, it sadly has modernized the dialogs, to the point that some lines are rewritten to fit our modern standards.
Hopefully, one day we'll be able to see "The Lost World" as it was intended to be, but meanwhile, we can still appreciate the enormous importance of its amazing special effects, and how it forecasts films like "Jurassic Park" in many ways. This epic tale of action, adventure and horror has probably not seen a better adaptation than this, the movie that set everything for the arrival of King Kong and changed special effects for ever.
* This film was such a success that there were plans to do a sound remake. In possible preparation for this, Aileen Rothacker reached an agreement with First National to withdraw this film from distribution. First National was to destroy all release prints and the foreign negative but the domestic negative was to be retained. It is not known if the original negatives decomposed or if they were mistakenly disposed of.
* In July 1929, the Kodascope Libraries acquired the 16mm rights to this film. The original lavender protection positive itself was edited down to five reels to create the abridged 16mm Kodascope version. This abridged Kodascope version was the only one widely known to survive in the U.S. until a more extensive (but still incomplete) original tinted, toned and hand-colored 35mm print was found in 2003 in the hands of a private collector and purchased by Film Preservation Associates.
* Is the first in-flight movie, shown on an Imperial Airways flight in a converted Handley-Page bomber from London, UK, to Paris, France, in April 1925.
* While filming one of the stop-motion scenes, the cameraman spotted a pair of pliers in the picture. So as not to draw attention to them by having them suddenly disappear, he moved them a little at a time until they were out of the shot.
* This was the first full length feature film to utilize stop motion animation to create its creatures.
* When the explorers return to London, there is a shot of the London Pavilion with a flashing sign advertising a showing of The Sea Hawk (1924), a movie in which two of the film's stars, Wallace Beery and Lloyd Hughes, had also appeared.
* The scene were the dinosaurs flees the volcano was created on table top stage 75 feet wide and 150 feet long.
* Arthur Conan Doyle attended the movie with his family. He liked it.
* The Brontosaurus head was operated by three men.
* The original 35mm 10 reel print was destroyed or burnt in afire at Universal Studios.