Friday, September 3, 2010

The Lost World (1925)

The Lost World is a 1925 silent film adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle's 1912 book of the same name. The movie stars Wallace Beery as Professor Challenger. This version was directed by Harry O. Hoyt and featured pioneering stop motion special effects by Willis O'Brien (an invaluable warm up for his work on the original King Kong directed by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack). Writer Doyle appears in a frontspiece to the film. In 1998, the film was deemed "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant" by the Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.

The journal of explorer Maple White is recovered from a plateau (see tepui) in Venezuela featuring sketches of dinosaurs, which is enough proof for the eccentric Professor Challenger that dinosaurs still walk the earth. With that, John Roxton (sportsman), news reporter Edward Malone (who wishes to go on the expedition to impress his fiancée), Challenger and Paula White as well as an Indian servant, Zambo, and Challenger's butler Austin leave for the plateau. At their campsite, the explorers are shocked when they discover that a large rock has been sent their way by an ape-man perched on top of an overhead ledge. As the crew looks up to see their attacker, Challenger spies a Pteranodon (mistakenly referred to as a pterodactyl in the film) overhead and proves that the statement in Maple White's diary is true. Leaving Zambo and Austin at the camp, they get 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 a trachodon, and knocks it into a bog. The allosaur then attacks, and is driven off by a triceratops. Eventually, the Allosaurus makes its way to the camp site and attacks the exploration party. It is finally driven off by Ed Malone who tosses a torch into it's mouth. Convinced that the camp isn't safe, Ed Malone climbs a tree to search for a new location, but is attacked by the ape-man. John Roxton succeeds in shooting the ape man, but the creature is merely wounded and escapes before John can finish him off. Meanwhile, an augathaumus is attacked by a tyrannosaur, and gores it to death. Suddenly, another tyrannosaur attacks and kills the augathaumus, 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, his remains are found, confirming his death. It is at this time that Ed confesses his love for Paula and the two are unofficially wed.

Shortly afterwards, as the paleontologists are observing a Brontosaurus, it is attacked by an allosaur and falls off the edge of the plateau, becoming trapped in a mud bank. Soon afterwards, a volcano erupts, causing a mass stampede among the giant beasts of the prehistoric world. In the end, the crew is saved when Paula White's pet monkey Jocko climbs a rope up the plateau and the crew climb down. As Ed makes his descent, he is again attacked by the ape-man who pulls the rope later. The ape-man is again shot, and this time killed, by Sir John Roxton. The Brontosaurus that was pushed off the plateau had landed softly in the mud at the bottom of the plateau, and Challenger manages to bring it back to London, as he wants to put it on display.
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, whereas Edward Malone discovers that the love he left in London has married in his absence, allowing him and Paula to be together. It is now Roxton's turn to be morose. From Wikipedia,

HARRY HOYT  (1925)


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