Classic film reviews: The Lost World

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Brenda Fellman

The Lost World is a silent film from 1925. It is a film adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s novel of the same name.

Classic film reviews: The Lost World – The plot

Professor Challenger is taken to be a fool by the British papers for claiming that dinosaurs are still alive today. Reporter Ed Malone soon learns that the claims come from a journal that was given to Challenger from the daughter of another explorer, Maple White, who went missing on a strange place in the Amazon. With this information, Ed Malone convinces his newspaper to sponsor a rescue mission for the missing explorer. Joined by world renowned hunter Sir John Roxton and a few others, they head to the Amazon, where they find pre-historic creatures. The men then do the unthinkable: they bring one of the pre-historic creatures to London.

Classic film reviews: The Lost World – Synopsis

The movie is an interesting watch, and not just as a silent film. The techniques that went into making this film are impressive for the year it came out. The over-the-top acting is expected from a film without sound, and you would be surprised how much you can pick up from just the actors’ facial expressions. While the dialogue boxes popping up every now and then are helpful, they are only really useful when the characters make full speeches. Otherwise, it is easy to figure out what they are saying and thinking.

At some points the story seems a bit rushed, and you may find yourself trying to figure out what the timeline is throughout the film. Let’s look the the romantic sub-plot between Ed and Paula. At the start of the film, Ed is in a relationship, and only goes on this journey to prove his bravery so that she will marry him. Then, suddenly, he is in love with Paula, and he and Paula want to get married. This all just seems a bit rushed.

Classic film reviews: The Lost World

The whole cast is built up of stars from the silent film era, and you can tell that they are all seasoned professionals. These actors perform with just the right amount of drama so that it doesn’t seem too corny. Also, Bull Montana makes the character of the Ape-Man believable, and the way he works with the chimpanzee is amazing. It seems a thought the two of them are real partners throughout the whole film.

This is the first feature length film in the US -if not the world- to use stop-motion and model animations as the primary special effect. The miniatures are well made and even have mechanical parts that make the eyes blink. Willis O’Brien, who pioneered stop motion, was a true special effects wizard, and this is one film where his skills are truly realized. The dinosaurs, created by Marcel Delgado, were realistic and stole the show, and they probably took years to build. Marcel Degado took his inspiration for his models from the painting of Charles R. Knight, the father of modern day paleontological restorations,  which explains why these dinosaurs are so realistic. Between the two talented men, the dinosaurs became the stars of the film and made you believe that they were alive.

Classic film reviews: The Lost World

Another part of the film that made it feel so realistic is the real animals used throughout the film, from the monkey and chimpanzee to the other animals that made the amazon setting come to life. The details in this film are amazing and make the whole world come to life. Also, the transition from the model of London to real London (though it was must likely filmed on a sound studio) was seamless. The entire film has a believable atmosphere throughout, and the backgrounds are gorgeous.

The music that was added to the DVD (as this would have been originally been either played by an actual piano player or a gramophone) is well layered and adds depth to the atmosphere and feeling to the film, and it helps to move the story along with its melodies.

Dinosaurs in the film are basically staples from the beginning. While early-era dinosaur films have been lost to time, the first dinosaur film was the 1905 film Prehistoric Man, about which very little is known. This is the first dinosaur film which is not only a feature length film, but a feature length hit, and it paved the way for many other dinosaur films; from King Kong (the original was also worked on by Willis O’Brien) to the Jurassic Park series.

Classic film reviews: The Lost World

You can tell that the cast, the director Harry O. Hoyt, Willis O’Brien and the crew cared about this film. It is truly a masterpiece, and it would not have been this good without everyone working their hardest to pull it off. So, if you want to see a part of cinema history, then give The Lost World a watch. You won’t be disappointed. This film is a well-crafted master piece.

Also, I want to say hello to all of my readers. If you have any suggestions for a film you would like me to review, please leave it in the comments down below, and I would be happy to review it.

The Lost World (1925) cast

Bessie Love – Paula White

Lewis Stone – Sir John Roxton

Wallace Beery – Professor Challenger

Lloyd Hughes – Ed Malone

Bull Montana – Ape-man

References

This Review took a little bit of research and I was lucky enough to find this site that gave me all the information I need.

http://silentmoviemonsters.tripod.com/TheLostWorld/LWMAKING.html

http://silentmoviemonsters.tripod.com/TheLostWorld/LWDELGADO.html

http://silentmoviemonsters.tripod.com/TheLostWorld/LWOBIE.html

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