The Lost World (1925 film)

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The Lost World
The Lost World (1925) - film poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byHarry O. Hoyt
Produced byEarl Hudson
Screenplay byMarion Fairfax
Based onThe Lost World
(1912 novel)
by Arthur Conan Doyle
StarringBessie Love
Lewis Stone
Wallace Beery
Lloyd Hughes
CinematographyArthur Edeson
Edited byGeorge McGuire
Distributed byFirst National Pictures
Release date
  • February 2, 1925 (1925-02-02) (US)
Running time
106 minutes (original)
55 minutes (Kodascope 16 mm)
64 minutes (1991)
100 minutes (1998)
93 minutes (2000)
110 minutes (2017)
CountryUnited States
LanguageSilent film (English intertitles)
Box office$1.3 million[2]

The Lost World is a 1925 American silent fantasy monster adventure film adapted from Arthur Conan Doyle's 1912 novel of the same name. The film 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 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.[3] Because of its age the film is in the public domain, and can be legally downloaded online.[citation needed]


The Lost World.

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 skeptical 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 Apeman 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 is not safe, Ed climbs a tree to look for a new location, but is attacked by the apeman. Roxton succeeds in shooting the apeman, 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 apeman who pulls the rope ladder. The apeman 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."


A herd of Triceratops from the film


Prehistoric animals[edit]

Segment of the film featuring Agathaumas, Tyrannosaurus, and Pteranodon

Other animals on the plateau[edit]

Animals in the Amazon[edit]


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.

The dinosaurs of this film were based on the artwork of Charles R. Knight. Some of the dinosaur models used in the film came into the famous collection of the fantasy film lover Forrest J Ackerman.

This was the first feature-length film made in the United States, possibly the world, to feature model animation as the primary special effect, or stop motion animation in general.

Doyle frequently mentioned that Professor Challenger, not Sherlock Holmes, was his favorite character among his creations.


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".[7]

In April 1925, on a London-Paris flight by Imperial Airways, The Lost World became the first film to be shown to airline passengers.[8] 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.

This is the first dinosaur-oriented film hit, and it led to other dinosaur films, from King Kong to the Jurassic Park series.

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
  • Flicker Alley – Blu-ray version of new 2K restoration (from various sources – original 35 mm nitrate copy, safety print, various 16 mm copies, etc.[11]) with around eight min. of recently discovered footage and a new full orchestra score by Robert Israel (produced by Serge Bromberg of Lobster Films and dedicated to David Shepard of Film Preservation Associates)
  • Some notes on the various restorations of this film as well as DVD/BD info from Carl Bennett of the Silent Era website

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Business: Film Exports". Time. July 6, 1925. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
  2. ^ Quigley Publishing Company "The All Time Best Sellers", International Motion Picture Almanac 1937–38 (1938) p 942 accessed 19 April 2014
  3. ^ The Associated Press (17 November 1998). Rice, Patrick A. (ed.). "'Easy Rider,' other films join national registry". The Times Herald. 93 (321). Port Huron, Michigan: Gannett. p. 21 – via
  4. ^ Lederer, Josie P. (June 1925). "The Lost World". Pictures and Picturegoer. Vol. 9 no. 52. pp. 12–13.
  5. ^ Marcel Delgado – The Man Who Made Monsters
  6. ^ Glut, Donald F.; Brett-Surman, Michael K. (1997). "Dinosaurs and the media". In Farlow, James; and Brett-Surman, Michael K. (eds.) (eds.). The Complete Dinosaur. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press. pp. 675–706. ISBN 978-0-253-33349-0.CS1 maint: uses editors parameter (link)
  7. ^ Pettigrew, Neil (1999). The Stop-Motion Filmography. MacFarland and Company, Inc. p. 427.
  8. ^ "An Aerial "Picture Theatre"". Flight. 16 April 1925. p. 225.
  9. ^ AFI's 100 Years...100 Thrills Nominees
  10. ^ AFI's 10 Top 10 Ballot
  11. ^ The Lost World Blu-ray

External links[edit]