The Lost World (1925 film)
|The Lost World|
theatrical release window card
|Directed by||Harry Hoyt|
|Produced by||Earl Hudson (uncredited)|
|Screenplay by||Marion Fairfax|
|Based on||The Lost World
by Arthur Conan Doyle
|Edited by||George McGuire|
|Distributed by||First National Pictures|
|106 minutes (original)
55 minutes (Kodascope 16 mm)
64 minutes (1991)
100 minutes (1998)
93 minutes (2000)
|Language||Silent film (English intertitles)|
|Box office||$1.3 million|
The Lost World is a 1925 silent fantasy adventure film adaptated from Arthur Conan Doyle's 1912 novel of the same name. The movie was produced by First National Pictures, a major Hollywood studio at the time, and stars Wallace Beery as Professor Challenger. It was directed by Harry O. Hoyt and featured pioneering stop motion special effects by Willis O'Brien, a forerunner of his work on the original King Kong. Doyle, who also created Sherlock Holmes, appears in a frontispiece to the film, absent from some extant prints.
In 1998, The Lost World was deemed "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant" by the Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry. Because of its age the film is in the public domain, and can be legally downloaded online.
From a lost expedition to a plateau in Venezuela, Paula White brings the journal of her father explorer Maple White to the eccentric Professor Challenger in London. The journal features sketches of dinosaurs which is enough proof for Challenger to publicly announce that dinosaurs still walk the earth. Met with ridicule at an academic meeting at the Zoological Hall, Challenger reluctantly accepts a newspaper's offer to finance a mission to rescue Maple White. Professor Challenger, Paula White, sportsman Sir John Roxton, news reporter Edward Malone (who is a friend of Roxton and wishes to go on the expedition to impress his fiancée), a sceptical professor Summerlee, an Indian servant Zambo, and Challenger's butler Austin leave for the plateau.
At their campsite at the base of the plateau, the explorers are shocked when a large rock falls, sent their way by an ape-man perched on top of an overhead ledge. As the crew look up to see their attacker, Challenger spies overhead a Pteranodon (mistakenly calling it a Pterodactylus) killing and eating a young Toxodon which proves that the statements in Maple White's diary are true. Leaving Zambo and Austin at the camp, they cross a chasm onto the plateau by cutting down a tree and using it as a bridge, but it is knocked over by a Brontosaurus, leaving them trapped.
The explorers witness various life-and-death struggles between the prehistoric beasts of the plateau. An Allosaurus attacks an Edmontosaurus, and knocks it into a bog. The Allosaurus then attacks, and is driven off by a Triceratops. Eventually, the Allosaurus makes its way to the campsite and attacks the exploration party. It is finally driven off by Ed who tosses a torch into its mouth. Convinced that the camp isn't safe, Ed climbs a tree to look for a new location, but is attacked by the ape-man. Roxton succeeds in shooting the ape-man, but the creature is merely wounded and escapes before he can finish him off. Meanwhile, an Agathaumas is attacked by the Allosaurus, and gores it to death. Suddenly, a Tyrannosaurus attacks and kills the Agathaumas, along with an unfortunate Pteranodon.
The explorers then make preparations to live on the plateau potentially indefinitely. A catapult is constructed and during a search for Maple White, Roxton finds his remains, confirming his death. It is at this time that Ed confesses his love for Paula and the two are unofficially wed by Summerlee who used to be a minister.
Shortly afterwards, as the paleontologists are observing the Brontosaurus, an Allosaurus attacks it and the Brontosaurus falls off the edge of the plateau, becoming trapped in a mud bank at the base of the plateau. Soon afterwards, a volcano erupts causing a mass stampede among the giant creatures of the lost world. The crew is saved when Paula's pet monkey Jocko climbs up the plateau carrying a rope. The crew use the rope to pull up a rope ladder constructed by Zambo and Austin and then climb down.
As Ed makes his descent, he is again attacked by the ape-man who pulls the rope ladder. The ape-man is again shot and finally killed by Roxton. They discover the Brontosaurus that had been pushed off the plateau had landed softly in the mud of the river, trapped but still alive, and Challenger manages to bring it back to London, as he wants to put it on display as proof of his story.
However, while being unloaded from the ship it escapes and causes havoc until it reaches Tower Bridge, where its massive weight causes a collapse, and it swims down the River Thames. Challenger is morose as the creature leaves. Ed discovers that the love he left in London has married in his absence, allowing him and Paula to be together. Roxton morosely but gallantly hides his love for Paula as Paula and Ed leave together, while two passersby note: "That's Sir John Roxton—sportsman."
- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as himself (appears in a frontispiece to the film, missing from some prints)
- Bessie Love as Paula White
- Lewis Stone as Sir John Roxton
- Lloyd Hughes as Edward Malone
- Wallace Beery as Professor Challenger
- Arthur Hoyt as Professor Summerlee
- Alma Bennett as Gladys Hungerford
- Virginia Browne Faire as Marquette the half-caste girl (uncredited)
- Bull Montana as Ape man/Gomez
- Francis Finch-Smiles as Austin
- Jules Cowes as Zambo
- Margerette McWade as Mrs. Challenger
- George Bunny as Colin McArdle
- Charles Wellesley as Major Hibbard (uncredited)
- Nelson MacDowell as Attorney (uncredited)
- Chris-Pin Martin as Bearer/Cannibal (scenes celeted)
- Jocko the Monkey as himself
- Mary the Chimpanzee as herself (uncredited)
- Agathaumas (seen in battle with Allosaurus and Tyrannosaurus and is based on a hypothetical restoration by Charles R. Knight,)
- Allosaurus (main carnivorous dinosaur seen, attacking Trachodon and Triceratops among others)
- Ape-man (menaces the team of explorers)
- Brachiosaurus (seen during the volcanic eruption, one of which was attacked by a Tyrannosaurus)
- Brontosaurus (The main antagonist. After falling into a bog at the conclusion of a fight with an Allosaurus, one is captured and taken to civilization, where it escapes and terrorizes the city)
- Anatosaurus (is preyed upon by the Allosaurus and also called by synonym Trachodon or Edmontosaurus)
- Pteranodon (the first prehistoric animal seen by the team of explorers)
- Stegosaurus (one disturbs the Agathaumas before the fight with the Allosaurus and Tyrannosaurus. It also escaped the volcano eruption)
- Toxodon (a juvenile was seen being eaten alive by the Pteranodon. It is the only prehistoric mammal that is not a primate they find on the plateau)
- Triceratops (shown to be capable of handling an Allosaurus in battle)
- Tyrannosaurus (is seen to have little trouble bringing down Agathaumas, as well as having a taste for any Pteranodon that swoops in too close. One fights with a Brachiosaurus in the eruption scene. Like the film Fantasia it is shown with three fingers.)
(The film's program mentions the Diplodocus but none are shown in the surviving footage.)
Other animals on the plateau
- Capuchin monkey
- Chimpanzee (helps the Ape-man antagonize the explorers)
- Unknown Feathered Lizard
- Spider monkey
Animals seen in the Amazon, but not the plateau
- Caiman or alligator
- Jaguar (stock footage)
- Scarlet macaw
- Spectacled bears (erroneously identified as "Spectacle Cave Bears")
- Two-toed sloth (stock footage)
- Three-toed sloth
Willis O'Brien had previously, in 1918, worked on a film called The Ghost of Slumber Mountain that used stop motion photography. In The Lost World he combined animated dinosaurs with live-action footage of human beings, but at first he was able to do this only by separating the frame into two parts (also known as split screen). As work went on, O'Brien's technique grew better and he could combine live-action and stop-motion footage in the same part of the screen.
In 1922, Conan Doyle showed O'Brien's test reel to a meeting of the Society of American Magicians, which included Harry Houdini. The astounded audience watched footage of a Triceratops family, an attack by an Allosaurus and some Stegosaurus footage. Doyle refused to discuss the film's origins. On the next day, the New York Times ran a front page article about it, saying "(Conan Doyle's) monsters of the ancient world, or of the new world which he has discovered in the ether, were extraordinarily lifelike. If fakes, they were masterpieces".
In April 1925, on a London-Paris flight by Imperial Airways, The Lost World became the first film to be shown to airline passengers. As film stock of the era was nitrate and highly flammable, this was a risky undertaking on a wood and fabric-hulled plane, a converted WW1 bomber, the Handley-Page O 400.
American Film Institute recognition
- George Eastman House – Laserdisc preservation with stills showing missing scenes
- George Eastman House – Film restoration using materials from Czech National Film Archive. Some sequences still missing and some inadvertently left out
- David Shepard, Serge Bromberg – DVD version using Kodascope prints, Czech archive materials, and trailers. Like the George Eastman House restoration, some sequences are still missing and some inadvertently left out
- Some notes on the various restorations of this film as well as DVD info from Carl Bennett of silentera.com database
- "Business: Film Exports". Time. July 6, 1925. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
- Quigley Publishing Company "The All Time Best Sellers", International Motion Picture Almanac 1937–38 (1938) p 942 accessed 19 April 2014
- Marcel Delgado – The Man Who Made Monsters
- Glut, Donald F.; Brett-Surman, Michael K. (1997). "Dinosaurs and the media". In Farlow, James; and Brett-Surman, Michael K. (eds.). The Complete Dinosaur. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press. pp. 675–706. ISBN 0-253-33349-0.
- Pettigrew, Neil, The Stop-Motion Filmography, MacFarland and Company, Inc., 1999, p. 427.
- "An Aerial "Picture Theatre"", Flight, 16 April 1925: 225
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Thrills Nominees
- AFI's 10 Top 10 Ballot
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to The Lost World (1925 film).|
- The Lost World at the Internet Movie Database
- on YouTube
- The Lost World at AllMovie
- The Lost World is available for free download at the Internet Archive
- Review of Image DVD and history of the different versions of the film
- Silent Movie Monsters: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World
- The Lost World at silentera.com
- Lobby poster featuring Wallace Beery