The Lost World (1925)

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote the novel this is based off, because not everything can be about weaponizing an academic’s neurodiversity, and it’s fitting that the person who invented the Lost World genre got his story into the first monster movie. Not only does it help explain the complexity and depth of the characters, in the text if not in the movie, but also how this ended up being a key part of pop culture itself. This begot King Kong, which begot Godzilla, which begot every sci-fi technician for from 1955 to 1970, which bigot visual effect you’ve seen since. And, obviously, Jurassic World Dominion. On balance, I think we have to give him a pass for that…

This face, for the whole movie. Incredible

The film script sticks relatively closely to the book, mostly just adding in a couple of extra dinosaurs. A mad scientist asks a room of apparently sensible scientists for the funding to go to the middle of nowhere, probably to die, so that he can bring back proof of the impossible thing he just claimed and they agree to it. A reporter comes along because he’s being cucked by his awful girlfriend, but the mad scientist’s niece is much nicer. A sensible scientist offers to come along to confirm the results (or to split the money when they both “die…”) and a famous sportsman comes along because he likes a bet.

“Honestly, I just want to shot a dinosaur for shits and giggles

They go deep into the jungle, which means (I shit you not) an open sewer behind the studio dressed up with extensive vines, racists caricatures, and stock-footage of animals. There’s a sloth; that made my day. Eventually they get to the place with the dinosaurs, and we see a lot of dinosaurs and they are majestic! The techniques are obvious to us now, but if you can turn off that bit of your brain and just revel in the feel of it then you’re in for a blast. There is also some strong characterisation of the creatures, surprising given the infancy of the stop motion involved, and that keeps it interesting beyond the raw motion.

More emotionally charged than the last three Jurassic Park movies.

Plot happens involving the humans, and then a dino rips shit up in London. Obvious conclusions occur and plotlines get neatly closed, all the cast having done their best given. No one is bad, it’s just that there is a lot of heavy eyebrow based acting. Thankfully, none of that gets in the way of the creatures; the build-up really works for the reveal and things close rapidly once the stars are no longer on screen.

Don’t ask, just sigh and move along.

A with most silent movies, the music you hear depends on the version you find. I ended up watching the 2020 Ghoulish Grin Classic Horror transfer and that had a rather avant-garde soundtrack that, at times, sounded like a foghorn being played in a scrapyard filled with hammer wielding drunks. I absolutely, but I understand that others might want to turn the sound off and enjoy the still clear visual story telling.

Proper terrifying!

Obviously, this is a massive nostalgia love-in for cinema nerds. I would hope anyone after something that could do anything but show its age when compared to something contemporary in the same genre would instinctively avoid it. Consider it a Treasure if you want to look in at the dawning of a new world, firm in the knowledge of all that was built up upon such a firm set of shoulders.

The Raggedyman

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