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'Lost World' showcases 'prehistoric' era of effects

| Friday, July 20, 2001

Decades before Steven Spielberg's computer-generated, realistic-looking dinosaurs frightened audiences in his 1993 blockbuster, 'Jurassic Park,' celluloid monsters were somewhat less believable.

Schedule
  • 'The Lost World,' 8 tonight, Turner Classic Movies

  • 'King Kong,' 10 tonight

  • 'The Son of Kong,' Midnight
  • One of the first films to try to bring prehistoric beasts to movie audiences was the 1925 silent-film dinosaur drama, 'The Lost World,' which was remade under the same title in 1960, 1992 and 1998.

    Yes, the special effects are incredibly crude by today's standards - and likely to only frighten the youngest children - but 'The Lost World' still offers viewers an entertaining look at the 'prehistoric' era of special effects. It is based on the 1912 novel of the same name by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who is best known for writing the Sherlock Holmes books. (Doyle even has a cameo at the opening of the film.)

    The film is color-tinted, as was the custom for the time, to give each scene a certain 'feel.' For example, night scenes are typically tinted blue. Except for Wallace Beery, the main stars of the film are not familiar names: Lloyd Hughes, Bessie Love and Lewis Stone. Some film fans may recognize the Oscar-winning actor Beery from his later work in 'Min and Bill' (1930), 'The Champ' (1931) or 'Treasure Island' (1934).

    The plot of 'The Lost World' is fairly simple: Adventurers go to a remote jungle to try to prove the existence of prehistoric creatures and to try to bring a creature back to civilization. There's a love triangle and a bit of a subplot about trying to rescue an explorer, but the main attraction of the story is the dinosaur animation.

    If this sounds a lot like the 'King Kong' plot, well, that's because it is. But viewers can judge for themselves, as Turner Classic Movies airs 'The Lost World' tonight, followed by 'King Kong' (1933) and 'The Son of Kong' (1933).

    TCM's airing of 'The Lost World' will be accompanied by two newly composed scores, which are airing simultaneously: traditional-style music compiled and conducted by Robert Israel on the main audio channel and a score composed and performed by the Alloy Orchestra on the Second Audio Program. (SAP is the alternate audio channel accessible on most television sets.)

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