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Film / The Lost World

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My brontosaurus has escaped. Keep off the streets until I recapture it.

The Lost World is a 1925 silent film directed by Harry O. Hoyt. It is an adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle's 1912 book of the same name.

The movie was produced by First National Pictures, a large Hollywood studio at the time,note  and stars Wallace Beery as Professor Challenger. This version was directed by Harry O. Hoyt and featured pioneering stop motion special effects by Willis O'Brien (an invaluable warm up for his work on the original King Kong (1933) directed by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack). Writer Doyle appears in a frontispiece to the film. In 1998, the film was deemed "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant" by the Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry. The film can be seen here.


Every movie featuring dinosaurs, from the Godzilla movies to Jurassic Park owes a nod to this film, as it was the Trope Codifier for dinosaurs as movie monsters. Even King Kong (1933) can be seen as a remake of The Lost World.

Not to be confused with the 1997 movie The Lost World: Jurassic Park, which borrows quite a few plot points to The Lost World nonetheless.

This film provides examples of:

  • Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder
  • Adapted Out: The traitorous "half-breeds" Gomez and Manuel, and the entire backstory about Roxton having killed Gomez's brother. Gomez may have appeared in the deleted sequence involving the cannibal tribe, however.
  • Adaptation Name Change: Gladys' last name is changed from Hungerton to Hungerford, and the man she marries while Malone is away, named William Potts in the novel, has been rechristened Percy Potts here in the movie.
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  • Adventurer Archaeologist: Professor Challenger.
  • Always a Bigger Fish: An Agathaumas kills an Allosaurus in battle, only to fall victim to the bigger and more powerful Tyrannosaurus.
  • Anachronism Stew: Various species of prehistoric animals from different periods.
  • Ascended Extra: Challenger's butler Austin joins the expedition; in the novel, he's barely seen.
  • Beast Man: Apeman.
  • Berserk Button: Reporters for Prof. Challenger.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Challenger.
  • Break the Cutie: Paula is teased with the possibility that her father might still be alive, then falls for Malone, only for her father's bones to be found later and Ed to have a fiance.
  • Bridge Logic
  • Bring It Back Alive: The expedition brings back a Brontosaurus that survived the volcanic eruption.
  • Call to Adventure: Malone, who's looking for a way to prove himself as a real man, boldly accepts Professor Challenger's invitation to journey to the depths of the Amazon.
  • Cannibal Tribe: Appears in a deleted scene.
  • Canon Foreigner: Maple White was given a daughter, Paula, as a love interest for Roxton (and then Malone who unintentionally steals her from him). She contributes almost nothing else.
  • Cringe Comedy: When Malone goes into his employer's office looking for a dangerous assignment, he immediately spills a bottle of ink all over a desk covered in papers, tries and fails to clean it up with a handkerchief, which he then wipes his face with, covering himself in ink as well, and on his way out he slips and falls headfirst through a closed door.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: The whole reason Malone went on the expedition was to impress Gladys, who marries Percy Potts while he's away. He does however win the hand of Paula - but since Paula was engaged to Roxton, now it's Roxton who doesn't get the girl.
  • Dumb Dinos: Most of the dinosaurs spend their screentime attacking and killing each other and humans, including the herbivorous Brontosaurus (though it only attacks humans during its rampage in London, which actually would be a realistic scenario for a large animal in a place it would find unsettling). However, a moment with a parent Triceratops and its young averts the trope.
  • Escaped Animal Rampage: May have been Trope Namer as far as monster movies are concerned.
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys: Jocko.
  • Frazetta Man: The expedition is stalked by an ape-man portrayed by an actor in a furry suit and makeup, and his buddy who's just a normal chimpanzee.
  • Gentleman Adventurer: Lord John Roxton.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: This seems to be reason why Roxton lets Paula go when she professes her love for Malone.
  • Improbable Taxonomy Skills: The explorers are able to identify the dinosaurs to the precise genus all while looking at them from a distance, despite them only having seen dinosaur skeletons and so they should not know precisely what the real versions would look like—especially considering the millions of years of evolution in the interval, as well as the fact that only a handful of dinosaurs had been discovered back then anyway. (To say nothing of feathers.)
  • Intrepid Reporter: Edward Malone.
  • Kaiju: The very first. That Brontosaurus going on a destructive rampage through London was such a trendsetter. It predates King Kong (1933) by 8 years and Gojira by 29.
  • Living Dinosaurs: Might be the first filmic example of this trope. Surviving dinosaurs are discovered in the eponymous Lost World.
  • Ptero Soarer: The first prehistoric creature shown in the film is a massive Pteranodon that grabs a peccary and carries it to its perch to eat.
  • Public Domain: While certain restored version of the movie are owned by the organizations that oversaw them, the heavily-edited 60-minute version is in the public domain and can be found for free in many places online, usually without color tinting and featuring generic music.
  • Skewed Priorities: Summerlee, who stops during the log crossing to examine and capture a beetle, briefly holding the expedition up.
  • Staircase Tumble: As in the novel, the tussling Challenger and Malone tumble down the front steps of the Professor's home.
  • Stock Dinosaurs: For sauropods we've got Brontosaurus and Brachiosaurus. For predators we've got an Allosaurus and a Tyrannosaurus rex. Other herbivores include Stegosaurus, Triceratops and Trachodon (Now Edmontosaurus). There's also the aforementioned Pteranodon/"Pterodactyl". There's one non-stock dinosaur that deserves special note. Agathaumas today is a synonym for Triceratops, but here it was a separate animal, using Charles R. Knight's illustration as a guide. It gets the big fight scenes against the two large predators rather than Triceratops.


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