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Literature / The Land That Time Forgot

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A fantasy novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Land That Time Forgot is the first of his Caspak trilogy first published in Blue Book Magazine as a three-part serial in the issues for September, October and November of 1918. In June 1924, Chicago based publisher A. C. McClurg combined the complete trilogy for publication in book form, simply known as The Land That Time Forgot. Though the three segments are now usually issued as separate short novels beginning with the Ace Books editions of the 1960s.

Though The Land That Time Forgot starts out as a harrowing wartime sea adventure taking place during World War I, the story ultimately develops into a Lost World story reminiscent of such novels as Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth and Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World. Though Burroughs added his own twists by postulating an unique biological system for his lost world where slow evolution in the world outside is recapitulated as a matter of individual metamorphosis, presented as a mystery whose explication is gradually worked out over the course of the next two novels, forming a thematic element serving to unite three otherwise rather loosely linked stories.


Under the direction of Kevin Connor, the novel was adapted into a 1975 fantasy/adventure film produced by Britain's Amicus Productions, where it became a sleeper hit, inspiring Amicus to make two more of Burroughs's novels into movie adaptations. All three films were distributed by American International Pictures in the United States. Screenplay written by Michael Moorcock, the cast included Doug McClure, John McEnery, Keith Barron, Susan Penhaligon, Anthony Ainley and Declan Muholland. This version was later riffed in season 11 of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Tropes pertaining to that episode can be found here.

In 2009, American independent film studio The Asylum released a science-fiction film based on the aforementioned Burroughs novel and a remake of the 1975 film, promoted under the title Edgar Rice Burroughs' The Land That Time Forgot and released in other countries as Dinosaur Island. Despite the title, the film is a rip-off of Land of the Lost.


In 2016, comic book studio American Mythology Production produced the The Land That Time Forgot, which was touted as a sequel to the original books. This was followed by a never-completed tie-in series, See-ta the Savage, in 2018.

The Land That Time Forgot trilogy provides examples of:

  • Always Chaotic Evil: The Weiroos, whose culture revolves around raiding the Galu tribe for women, who are kept as breeding slaves, and murderous intercine squabbles over power, prestige, and access to breeding slaves.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Friedrich von Schoenvorts, the German lieutenant in command of the U-Boat, is also a baron. He commits war crimes and is a Bad Boss to his crew (whipping them for minor offenses). Burroughs uses him as an example of what Bowen Tyler describes as being "the Kaiser Breed," expressing contempt for German nobility.
  • Born in the Wrong Century: Tom Billings, in The People That Time Forgot, finds that he's more comfortable on Caspak than he was in the civilized 20th century.
  • Dumb Dinos: The dinosaurs are of the standard violent, feral variety.
  • Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: Caprona, aka Caspak, the Land That Time Forgot.
  • Frazetta Man: The lower ranks of the Capronan Human Subspecies are distinctive examples of that pulp-borne category of ape-men.
  • Human Sub Species: Caprona is home to seven different strains of humanity, consisting of a sextet that embody the Evolutionary Levels from Frazetta Man to modern human, and a parasitic ofshoot race.
    • The Alu are the bottom tier of the human ladder on Caprona; a small and feral race of bipedal, non-brachiating primates with no verbal language and no grasp of technology.
    • The Bo-lu are more advanced than the Alu, having grasped at least the basic concept of using clubs. Their womenfolk no longer have hairy faces, although the rest of their bodies are still covered in fur.
    • The Sto-lu are mostly Neanderthal-like, but slightly more primitive, with a distinctly ape-like arm-length. They have mastered fire and primitive stone tools, favoring the use of stone hatchets, and speak a language of single-syllable words.
    • The Band-lu resemble Cro-magnons, and have mastered a language of two-syllable words.
    • The Kro-lu are a higher breed than the Band-lu, having progressed to an agrarian lifestyle. They are also known as the Bow People, for they have learned the art of ranged weapons.
    • The Galu are the most advanced race on Caprona, physically resembling modern-day humans and with a Bronze Age level of technology.
    • The Wieroo are a parasitic species of monstrous bat-winged flying men with Psychic Powers. A One-Gender Race consisting entirely of males, they reproduce by abducting Galu women and keeping them as sex slaves.
  • I Choose to Stay: Tom Billings at the end of The People That Time Forgot.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Co-Tan's brother An-Tak, who has been imprisoned by the Wieroos for so long that he has become an insane cannibal and tries to eat Bradley.
  • Island of Mystery: The uncharted island of Caprona.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Baron von Schoenvorts drives one of his men to suicide and brutally whips another for a minor offense. Near the end of Out of Time's Abyss, Plesser, the guy he whipped, kills him by stabbing him to death with a bayonet during a battle.
  • Like a Duck Takes to Water: Tom Billings, the hero in The People That Time Forgot, adapts to life very easily in the primeval Lost World of Caspak and elects to stay there with the woman he loves.
  • Lost World: The Land of the title, an island somewhere in the vicinity of Mysterious Antarctica.
  • Mars Needs Women: The Wieroos are an all-male race of winged humanoids, and they reproduce by kidnapping cavewomen from the interior.
  • Message in a Bottle: The Framing Device is that the book is derived from a manuscript found afloat in the ocean in a thermos flask.
  • Metamorphosis: All the creatures on the island are evolving from one species to another as they move inland and northward.
  • Mysterious Antarctica: The tropical Lost World Caspak is located on a large island in the vicinity of Antarctica.
  • Off with His Head!: How Bradley kills He Who Speaks For Luata.
  • Prehistoric Monster: Many of the creatures found on Caspak, including a Tyrannosaurus depicted as an armor-plated dragon that eats its victims with its three-fingered hands.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Beyond a tendency to confuse the terms Caprona and Caspak, which in-universe are different language names for the same locale, the fandom often gets muddled over the naming system of the land's Human Sub Species. Do all of the races have a "two words conjoined by a hyphen" structure, none of them, or some of them? Are the evil winged people the Wieroo, with an I before E, or the Weiroo, with an E before I? You'll find different people using different variants of these names.

The 1975 film provides examples of:

  • Adapted Out: Bowen's dog, Nobs.
  • Adaptational Heroism:
    • In direct contrast to how he is portrayed in the novel, Captain von Schoenvorts is a thoughtful U-Boat officer who treats his men fairly, forbids the killing of survivors after sinking the British ship, and works loyally and faithfully alongside Tyler and Bradley in Caprona. All his villainous traits are ported over to the character of Dietz.
    • A more minor example is Benson. In the novel, Benson has a grudge against the Tyler family, and doublecrosses Bowen aboard the sub early on before being killed. In the film, he's just one of the British crew and a definite good guy who gets killed in a fight with some Sto-Lu warriors.
  • Bodyguard Betrayal: Von Schoenvorts' second in command Dietz betrays him - and everyone else - at the end.
  • Cool, Clear Water: Zig-Zagged. Von Schoenvorts and Clayton analyze a sample of Caprona's waters at one point, discover it to be filled with microbes, and declare it unsafe to drink. The only problems with this are as follows: 1)The two of them act surprised that the water is in this state, even though literally any drop of water on earth would be host to an entire internal ecosystem of microbes. 2) All they'd have to do is freaking boil it.
  • Cool Guns: The Luger Artillery Model is the standard sidearm of most characters. Olson also uses a Bergmann MP18 machine pistol.
  • Covers Always Lie: The 1975 movie poster is used as a video/DVD cover for this film and about half the things it depicts, like the electric ray and the tethered bathysphere (which would have been Anachronism Stew had it made it into the film), aren't seen in the movie.
  • Death by Adaptation: Pretty much everyone, but particularly Bradley, Whiteley, Sinclair, and Plesser. Other characters such as von Schoenvorts, Dietz and Benson die differently and at different points than they do in the novel, and under entirely different circumstances.
  • Frazetta Man: Ahm and the Sto-Lu are generic, Neanderthal-esque natives.
  • Headgear Headstone: The sailors killed by the dinosaurs, whether British or German, all have their graves marked with a pole driven into the ground with their sailors' cap hung from the top of it.
  • Hollywood Costuming: The ribbed turtlenecks worn by most of the cast in the 1916 scenes didn't really exist until the 1960s and 1970s. Turtlenecks at the time were either a fluffy material, or were just excess neck fabric folded in layers by the wearer whenever donned.
  • Jerkass: Dietz, making him a Composite Character of himself and Von Schoenvorts from the novel. By contrast, the film's version of Von Schoenvorts is a Reasonable Authority Figure.
  • More Dakka: How Olson solves the problem of the plesiosaurus attacking the sub. In fact, this is generally how the characters solve any dinosaur-related problem.
  • Mud Wrestling: A Rare Male Example - Dietz and Olson fight in an oily swamp.
  • The Radio Dies First: After Bowen and the British sailors capture the sub, one of the German officers smashes the radio so they cannot signal any Allied shipping.
  • Taking You with Me: The dying Bradley blows Dietz away as his last act.

The 1977 film The People That Time Forgot provides examples of:

  • Absolute Cleavage: Ajor's outfit is all about showing off her bountiful bosom.
  • Appease the Volcano God: The Naga throw into the volcano next to their skull fortress to as sacrifices to their god Nagoromata.
  • Bad with the Bone: During the scene where male heroes escape their skull-adorned cell by overpowering the guards, Dr. Norfolk beats one up with a bone that picked up from the floor.
  • Bus Crash: Bowen tells Ben and Dr. Norfolk that the Naga killed the tribe that he and Lisa became part of, and Lisa herself was sacrificed to the Naga's volcano god Nagoromata.
  • Canon Foreigner: Pretty much the entire cast, except for Bowen and Ajor. Ben McBride is sort of analogous to Tom Billings, but the other characters are all written in just for the movie.
  • Chandelier Swing: One is performed during the battle at the sacrifical altar.
  • Death by Adaptation: Lisa dies off-screen between films, and Bowen suffers a fatal arrow wound in the final battle, whereas in the book both of them survive and get married.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Lisa's death at the hands of the Naga put Bowen over it.
    Bowen: Back when we were kids Ben, I always wanted to play The Hero...only then, heroes aren't real. I told you, there's no escape...
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Bowen, Ben and Dr. Norfolk dress up in the Nagas' armor to interrupt the sacrifice.
  • Dragon Their Feet: Chung-Shah outlives Sabbala by a good few minutes.
  • Driven to Suicide: Bolum throws himself into the volcano after his master Sabbala dies.
  • Flare Gun: Ben carries one as a signalling device to Hogan, who has been left behind to fix the amphibian plane. Late he and company come across two cavemen from the friendly Ga-Lu tribe being chased by the savage Band-Lu tribe. Ben tries to save the two by firing several shot from his flare gun at the savages, but is unable to save them.
  • Load-Bearing Boss: For some reason, throwing Sabbala in the volcano causes it to erupt.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: The Naga are a caveman tribe that inexplicably has its mooks dressed and armed like Samurai.
  • Nubile Savage: Ajor. And how!
  • Ptero Soarer: Our heroes are attacked by one as they are flying towards the prehistoric valley.
  • Screaming Warrior: A lot of the cavemen.
  • Sword Cane: Dr. Norfolk's cane is revealed to be one during the sacrifical altar battle inside Naga's skull fortress. He even manges to kill the big executioner with it.

Alternative Title(s): The People That Time Forgot


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