EDITOR’S NOTE: This was first on the site on October 5, 2021.
Adapted from Arthur Conan Doyle’s 1912 novel, The Lost World is most famous for its stop motion special effects, which were created by Willis O’Brien and predate his work on the original King Kong.
In some prints of this film, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle himself appeared in the opening, introducing what audiences were about to see. Just a few years earlier, he had shown a test reel of O’Brien’s effects to a meeting of the Society of American Magicians, including Harry Houdini. The audience was certain they had seen true footage of dinosaurs and Coyle refused to say where he had acquired the footage. It even made the front page of the New York Times, which said that 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.”
The first feature-length film made in the United States — and probably the world — to feature model animation as the primary special effect, this was also the first movie to be played on an airplane.
Professor Challenger (Wallace Berry) has been ridiculed for announcing that dinosaurs are real, yet he accepts an offer to field a team to rescue the scientist Maple White, along with that learned man’s daughter Paula, sportsman Sir John Roxton, news reporter Edward Malone, Professor Summerlee, Zambo and Challenger’s butler Austin. I mean, if you live in style, I always say take your servant to meet some kaiju.
Well, their trip is filled with peril, plenty of dinosaurs and an apeman who nearly kills them multiple times before they bring a brontosaurus back to London. Unlike Kong, beauty does not kills the beast and the gigantic quadruped sauropod swims on down the Thames to freedom.
The first big-budget special effects film (in the modern sense, even though it’s from 1925) – the second half of the movie is basically a lot of large-scale special effects. Not that I’m complaining – it’s entertaining enough!
I watch movies on a projector, and you need to see this on as big a screen as possible. There are lots of shots where the actors have been superimposed on shots of dinosaurs and/or jungles, but the actors are so tiny that on a TV, you’d probably miss them.