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The Lost World (1925)

Old 04-16-99, 06:01 AM
Greg Lovern
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The Lost World (1925) arrived today. I didn't have time to watch it all the way through tonight, but couldn't resist skimming it.

I must say I was a bit worried when I saw that the famous screenwriter's name was prominently misspelled on the front cover as "Sir Conan Doyal". Someone at Slingshot DVD must be blushing about that by now. If only they had watched the opening credits, which prominently spell it correctly. But my worries were unfounded; this is a very well-made DVD.

The source material is in need of restoration and some of it survives only in 16mm (and some of it doesn't survive at all), but aside from that the picture is as good as I could have hoped. I didn't notice any digital artifacts while skimming through it except fairly subtle and unobtrusive ones in the intertitles.

The score is really cool; understated but ominous and tense. I enjoyed it so much I had to wonder if it was believeably in a 1920's style. Maybe someone here who knows more about music can weigh in on that.

The Lost World was the first major stop-motion animated feature, made by the same animators who made the original King Kong 8 years later. The animation is primitive compared even to Kong and quite clumsy compared to today's very deft work by Henry Selick (The Nightmare Before Christmas, James and the Giant Peach), but still enjoyable. And if you mentally place yourself in the shoes of the 1925 audience, the magic is still there. There are some really cool segments.

A lot of it is fun in a campy way. The most hysterical part for me is when a brontosaurus snarls and viciously bites what I take to be a tyrannosaurus rex on the neck. Uh, yeah, I'll bet that happened all the time.

The story is of a London professor who discovers a remote place in South America where dinosaurs still lived, captures a brontosaurus, and brings it back to London. You know what happens next even if you've never heard of the movie: the beast escapes and rampages through London causing much damage.

The supplements are very good -- some early stop-motion animated films, plus a promo film, original trailer, and some still frames, and more. There's a letter by stop-motion animation legend Ray Harryhausen (Jason and the Argonauts) that somehow I managed to skip when skimming through.

The case is a large jewel-case the size of a keep-case or snapper. It opens like a book, though; not a slide-out tray like the otherwise similar Polygram cases.

Looking forward to watching the whole thing this weekend.
Old 04-17-99, 06:36 AM
Greg Lovern
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I watched it tonight. I think it's one of the most enjoyable silent films I've ever seen. I'm sure I'll watch it again soon.

The transfer is great; aside from the intertitles, I never noticed a digital artifact (not that I was looking that closely most of the time). The score is so good I was sometimes paying as much attention to it as to the picture; it does a great job of enhancing the film.

Some of the source material is in really bad shape; I'd really like to see this title get restored. But most of it is acceptable.

Many scenes are heavily tinted -- blue for night, orange for bright sunlight, green for a jungle scene, stobe-like alternating tints for an explosion. Aside from being annoying and distracting to modern eyes, tinting obscures details. But the tinting is in the source material; the DVD producers can't do anything about it.

The brontosauri are easily the most athletic I've ever seen, with necks as agile as snakes and as strong as cranes, able not only to outmaneuver a hungry allosaurus but also hold it aloft while gripping it in its teeth. I half expected them to start tap-dancing while tying their necks in fancy knots. The animation often manages to be simultaneously enchanting and campy fun.

The supplementary features are fun. The original trailer includes footage not in the film (more of that cool brontosaurus snarling). The shorts have more stop-motion animation, most by Lost World animator Willis O'Brien.

The liner notes list 4 chapters I wasn't able to find:

20) The Lost World: 1925's Motion Picture Miracle
21) Ray Harryhausen letter
22) Willis O'Brien
23) The Lost World: Technical Notes

Thinking they might be DVD-ROM features, I had a look at it in my computer, but didn't see anything promising. The disc comes with DVD player software, so on the off chance that it might have a way of accessing those 4 chapters, I installed it. No such luck. Slingshot DVD's web site is http://www.slingshotdvd.com ; I looked there but found nothing about the missing chapters. I sent them an email at mailto:[email protected] asking about it; if they answer I'll post their answer here. But as far as I can tell, those 4 chapters seem to exist only in the liner notes and on the 1992 out-of-print laserdisc.

I mentioned that writer Doyle's name was prominently misspelled as Doyal on the front cover. Here's a good picture:

Unless you're allergic to both silent films and stop-motion animation, this disc is a lot of fun. Definately a big thumbs up. :-)
Old 04-19-99, 06:48 PM
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Which version did you review? The lumivision or Image? Image just released theirs, and it sounds significantly better and most complete than the original DVD release. Have you seen the Image version?
Old 04-20-99, 02:02 AM
Greg Lovern
Posts: n/a

I hadn't been aware of the Lumivision DVD until reading your post, but there it is on page 4 of the October '97 Laserdisc Newsletter.

The only studio mentioned anywhere on the box or disc is Slingshot. When playing the disc, the only studio logo that displays is Slingshot. Image is never mentioned.

Here's what it looks like:

I noticed that Lumivision and Slingshot seem to have the same titles, and that these titles seem to be listed as Image at http://www.laserviews.com/dvd-calendar.html .

The October '97 Laserdisc Newsletter review mentions that the Lumivision DVD is based on the same 1992 laserdisc, and indicates that it has what sounds like at least two of the chapters missing from the Slingshot (chapters 20 & 23).

Well, dang. I wonder if the Lumivision is hard to come by.
Old 04-20-99, 02:34 AM
Greg Lovern
Posts: n/a
Forgot to add:

Slingshot and Lumivision appear to have the
same DVD titles:
-- http://www.slingshotdvd.com/fr_cat.html
-- http://www.lumivision.com/dvd.order.html

The cover of mine looks different than the cover shown at both Slingshot and
at Lumivison:
-- http://www.lumivision.com/fea_films.html
-- http://www.slingshotdvd.com/fr_cat.html
Old 04-21-99, 07:17 PM
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Okay. Finally figured out what happened. Image released the Slingshot print, (or is it Slingshot released the Image print??) hence my confusion. HOWEVER, check out Ken Cranes or DVD EXpress, and they say that Image/Slingshot has RE-Released this disc as of 4/13/99 and it is a new release, but the same cover!!?? I'll try to find out what the difference is - is it the same print, or just a re-release....
Old 04-24-99, 06:36 PM
Greg Lovern
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FWIW, I had a look at the 1992 laserdisc at a rental store yesterday, and the only thing it appears to have that the Slingshot DVD does not have is the Ray Harryhausen letter. It's very short, just 4 paragraphs, and not especially informative. Probably of interest mainly to Harryhausen collectors. It's printed on the back jacket.

I'd still like to see the '97 Lumivision DVD, though; sounds like it does have the other 3 mystery items.
Old 04-24-99, 06:43 PM
Greg Lovern
Posts: n/a
Oh -- still haven't heard back from Slingshot about the missing chapters. I've sent them several emails asking about them at mailto:[email protected] and mailto:[email protected] .

[This message has been edited by Greg Lovern (edited 04-24-99).]
Old 04-28-99, 02:48 AM
Greg Lovern
Posts: n/a
Finally heard back from Slingshot about the missing chapters:

From: jamie [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: Tuesday, April 27, 1999 2:00 PM
To: [email protected]
Subject: Lost World

I do apologize for the problem with The Lost World. A mistake was made on the DVD, and we will gladly replace it when we remaster the disc. We should have the remastered disc on the market by July. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Old 05-08-99, 08:06 PM
Greg Lovern
Posts: n/a
Good news -- another Lumivision/Slingshot employee sent me the (out of print) '97 Lumivision DVD. They didn't send it in the '97 Lumivision case; they sent it in the Slingshot case, with a sticker on the front covering "Doyal" with the correct spelling, "Doyle".

On the '97 DVD, chapters 20 - 23 are all accessible. Unfortunately, it has a problems of its own:
-- Digital artifacts. Although both discs are single sided, single layer, the '99 Slingshot DVD has much higher data rates. I didn't notice any digital artifacts in the '99 Slingshot DVD, but in the '97 Lumivision DVD they are annoying. Although they mostly affect the titles and intertitles, there is at least one animation shot (the first shot of the brontosaurus in London) that is almost ruined by awful artifacts.
-- Chapter 19 is not accessible. But that doesn't matter since I have that on the '99 DVD anyway, and (as described above) a better version of the chapter on the '91 laserdisc (I broke down and bought an old ex-rental since the stills were so much better on the laserdisc).

It has one small feature not noted in the liner notes and not included in the other editions -- a short reading list for O'Brien fans.

Some of the text in the missing chapters is slightly modified from the laserdisc.

Oh -- chapter 22, "Willis O'Brien". Turns out it's just very brief documentation on the early O'Brien shorts. It's on the '91 laserdisc's jacket insert, and it's also on the '97 Lumivision DVD.

If you're interested enough in this title to want more than just the current Slingshot DVD:
-- If you don't have a laserdisc player, try to get Slingshot to send you the '97 Lumivision DVD.
-- If you do have a laserdisc player, try to find a copy of the '91 Lumivison laserdisc. If you have the Slingshot DVD and the '91 laserdisc, you don't need the '97 Lumivision DVD (unless maybe if you really want that O'Brien reading list).

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