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The Lost World (1925)

The fine folks at Image Entertainment have released yet another restored and remastered silent screen marvel. 1925's The Lost World is nothing less than the first live-action dinosaur feature, the first film to combine stop-motion model animation effects with flesh-and-blood actors, and the movie that announced cinema's first special effects celebrity, Willis H. O'Brien, who eight years later gave the world King Kong. The Lost World is a stripped-down version of the 1912 novel by Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes. It introduces Doyle's other most famous character, Professor George Edward Challenger. Played to blustery perfection by Wallace Beery, Challenger is taunted by his peers of the London scientific establishment for his declarations that a "lost world" of dinosaurs exists on a plateau deep within the South American continent. So he dares anyone to join him on an expedition to find proof and to rescue a colleague, Maple White, an explorer who never returned from the plateau. Taking the dare are famous big-game hunter Lord John Roxton (Lewis Stone); doubting scientist Summerly (Arthur Hoyt); newspaper reporter Edward Malone (Lloyd Hughes), who wants not only a good story but the rather flighty heart of the woman he loves; and Paula White (Bessie Love), daughter of the lost explorer. Trapped on the plateau, Challenger's party discover what became of Maple White and ponder the possibility of having to spend the rest of their lives in such a hellish world. It's the dramatic dinosaur scenes that make The Lost World so memorable and important to the development of fantasy on screen. O'Brien showed 1925 audiences such wonders as an allosaur attacking the expedition, a tyrannosaur battling a stegosaur, a vast panorama of dinosaurs on the move, and a brontosaur on the loose in London. It's an archetype for monster movies ever since.

This DVD edition restores 50 percent more footage than any version since the 1930s and presents the most definitive restoration available. Extras are plentiful: two new musical scores, a commentary track by Roy Pilot (co-author of the book The Annotated Lost World), more than 13 minutes of rare unused dinosaur footage, a production stills and art gallery, selected images from The Annotated Lost World, and a miniature replica of the 18-page souvenir program from 1925.
—Mark Bourne

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