The strange disppearance of Flight MH370 in Malaysia has prompted me to recall one of my favourite black and white movies ... As synchronicity would have it, the recollection is followed by a conversation with a stranger in a local coffee shop discussing the very same film...
Lost Horizon is a 1937 American drama-fantasy film directed by Frank Capra. The screenplay by Robert Riskin is based on the 1933 novel of the same title by James Hilton.
The film exceeded its original budget by more than $776,000, and it took five years for it to earn back its cost. The serious financial crisis it created for Columbia Pictures damaged the partnership between Capra and studio head Harry Cohn, as well as the friendship between Capra and screenwriter Riskin, whose previous collaborations had included Lady for a Day, It Happened One Night, and Mr. Deeds Goes to Town.
Before returning to England to become the new Foreign Secretary, writer, soldier and diplomat Robert Conway (Ronald Colman) has one last task in 1935 China: to rescue 90 Westerners in the city of Baskul. He flies out with the last few evacuees, just ahead of armed revolutionaries.
Unbeknownst to the passengers, the pilot has been replaced and their aircraft hijacked. It eventually runs out of fuel and crashes deep in the Himalayan Mountains, killing their abductor. The group is rescued by Chang (H.B. Warner) and his men and taken to Shangri-La, an idyllic valley sheltered from the bitter cold. The contented inhabitants are led by the mysterious High Lama (Sam Jaffe).
Initially anxious to return to civilization, most of the newcomers grow to love Shangri-La, including paleontologist Alexander Lovett (Edward Everett Horton), swindler Henry Barnard (Thomas Mitchell) and bitter, terminally ill Gloria Stone (Isabel Jewell), who miraculously seems to be recovering. Conway is particularly enchanted, especially when he meets Sondra (Jane Wyatt), who has grown up in Shangri-La. However, Conway's younger brother George (John Howard), and Maria (Margo), another beautiful young woman they find there, are determined to leave.
Conway eventually has an audience with the High Lama and learns that his arrival was no accident. The founder of Shangri-La is said to be hundreds of years old, preserved, like the other residents, by the magical properties of the paradise he has created, but is finally dying and needs someone wise and knowledgeable in the ways of the modern world to keep it safe. Having read Conway's writings, Sondra believed he was the one; the Lama had agreed with her and arranged for Conway's abduction. The old man names Conway as his successor and then peacefully passes away.
George refuses to believe the Lama's fantastic story and is supported by Maria. Uncertain and torn between love and loyalty, Conway reluctantly gives in to his brother and they leave, taking Maria with them, despite being warned that she is much older than she appears. After several days of grueling travel, she becomes exhausted and falls face down in the snow. When they turn her over, they discover that she had become extremely old and died. Her departure from Shangri-La had restored Maria to her true age. Horrified, George loses his sanity and jumps to his death.
Conway continues on and eventually meets up with a search party sent to find him, although the ordeal has caused him to lose his memory of Shangri-La. On the voyage back to England, he remembers everything; he tells his story and then jumps ship. The searchers track him back to the Himalayas, but are unable to follow him any further. Conway manages to return to Shangri-La. (Courtesy of Wikipedia)
|Lost Horizon (1937)|