For Reel

Lost Horizon (1937)
December 13, 2015, 11:39 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Frank Capra
3 Stars
Lost HorizonLost Horizon begins as a rebuttal to critics who speak of director Frank Capra’s stodginess, choreographing an exciting rescue sequence in which a noted British diplomat (Ronald Colman) helps evacuate westerners out of war-torn China. When the three key refugees are aboard a plane that’s been hijacked by a kidnapper, a sense of paranoia and dread begins to sink in–these characters at the mercy of a pilot whose motivations are entirely unclear. Unfortunately, when our heroes settle down in the famed Shangri-La, Capra perhaps dwells too excessively in the day-to-day happenings of this utopia, with the running time seeking justification that it never finds. Only with a tuberculosis-ridden prostitute (Isabel Jewel) does the drama of the fantastical reprieve have significant emotional resonance. If Capra’s desire to ponder this land of peace seems unfocused, where he succeeds is in the bookending sequences that revel in the chaos and confusion–emotions the director rarely dealt with in this period, save for short bursts (such as the bus scene of It Happened One Night). While the final image of the film makes Colman’s journey more palatable than it needs to be, there is a great poetic beauty in watching a man battle the elements in search of the happiness he made the mistake of failing to trust.

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