Celebrating the 80th Anniversary of “Lost Horizon”

Originally released on March 2, 1937, Lost Horizon is a breathtaking adaptation of the James Hilton novel directed by Frank Capra. With a budget of 1.25 million dollars, something that was unprecedented for its time, Capra set out on an epic journey to bring his vision to the screen. He notoriously shot so much footage that it made the self-indulgence of later directors like Stanley Kubrick seem tame by comparison. Production problems mounted, preview screening responses were tepid and cuts and reshoots followed. Yet even in its truncated, dare one say compromised, form, Lost Horizon is a stunning masterpiece, an epic example of the power of cinema. Despite a rocky production, the film went earn to earn several Academy Award nominations — including Best Picture — and even garnered two wins (for Best Film Editing and Best Art Direction).

The story concerns a group of travelers led by British diplomat Robert Conway (Ronald Colman). After their evacuation flight from war-torn China is hijacked and crashed in the Himalayas, the characters are led through the frozen terrain to a hidden and happy civilization nestled within the valley of Shangri-La. But what is the secret of Shangri-La, and does paradise really exist on Earth? To answer those questions would be to spoil the film’s drama and surprises. But the theatrical trailer gives you an idea of what to expect:

Earlier this month, Sony released a special 80th anniversary edition of the film. Packaged in a collectible digibook which features an essay from film historian Jeremy Arnold, the Blu-ray contains such features as a 4K Resolution remaster of the film’s 133-minute version, an audio commentary, rare footage and deleted scenes, featurettes and a trailer, this is the ultimate way to experience the grandeur of Lost Horizon…either again or for the first time.