The extraordinarily bellicose Professor Challenger (Wallace Beery) leads an expedition to the wilds of the Amazon to rescue a fellow explorer who was marooned on "The Lost World" - an isolated plateau on which dinosaurs still live. Trapped themselves by mishap, they must survive encounters with various prehistoric creatures, including a vicious ape man (Bull Montana). Finally escaping via a flimsy rope ladder, our heroes also manage to bring back to London a live Brontosaurus - which, of course, gets loose and causes all manner of havoc.
The Lost World is the first feature length film to utilize stop animation, and some of it is comically crude, even by 1925 standards - animator Willis O'Brien was obviously learning as he went along. Most of the animation stands up pretty well, though, and the scope of O'Brien's achievement is obvious only when you consider that this movie was made without benefit of optical printers, traveling mattes, or any of the other technological niceties we consider standard today.
This version of The Lost World is ballyhooed as taken from only the finest 35mm and 16mm sources, and the speckling and blemishing is held to a remarkably low degree. The intertitles are digital freeze-frames, which really only serves to highlight the spots dancing across the screen at other times. Rather clever use is made of tinting, especially during the volcano eruption and the brontosaurus' trashing of London, flashing red across the screen for explosions. The new digital soundtrack also makes use of sound effects, which will annoy silent film purists; on the laserdisc version of this movie, these effects could be turned off.
Sadly, this is also the shortened version of The Lost World, cut by as much as 50%, as distributor First National destroyed prints to make way for a sound remake. The continuity flubs are few, however, and the picture remains an enjoyable experience... even if one is left with the feeling that the original ending was not quite as bitter as the one seen here.
This Special Edition includes excerpts of three of O'Brien's "manikin comedies" produced for the Edison Company, a theatrical trailer, an odd promotional piece featuring "The Lost World Puzzle" ("The U.S. is Puzzle Mad!") and a Pathé Review novelty film, "Monsters of the Past", which features claymation most certainly not by O'Brien, but certainly showing that he wasn't the only animator fiddling about with dinosaurs. In addition, there are illustrated chapter stops and a gallery of production photos.
Recommended for fans of silent films or students of stop-motion animation; those who like their dinos CGI-ed or breathing fire should seek satisfaction elsewhere.
Dr. Freex, 4/3/00