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Help Save The Lost World Now!
Perhaps some of you will be excited at the news that much of the missing
footage from the 1925 version of "The Lost World" has been rediscovered
in Czechoslovakia. The restoration, however, is very expensive, so we
are spearheading a campaign to help The George Eastman House to raise
the money. Consider it, if you will, a form of artistic archaeology.
Especially if you were one of the paleontological folks who were
inspired by either "King Kong" or the work of Ray Harryhausen, you might
owe it to yourself to help out just a little.
Remember, also, that this charming and exciting film was state of the
art in its day and without it, dinosaur art and movies and perhaps
paleontology would not be what they are today.
Following is an advance look at the text of the article which appears
complete with movie scenes unseen in 72 years! at:
----- Draft of Article Follows ----
Save The Lost World!
Help restore the world's most important dinosaur movie!
By Edward Summer
The Lost World opened on Broadway at New York City's
Astor Theater in
Now wait a minute. The Lost World doesn't hit theaters
until Memorial Day, 1997. What's going on here?
Those of you who are ahead of this article undoubtedly
know that Michael
Crichton's The Lost World owes its title to a famous
novel by Sir Arthur Conan
Doyle which originally appeared as a serial in the Strand
Magazine in London,
England beginning in April 1912. It was optioned for a
motion picture in 1919,
and finally made it to the screen in 1925.
Responsible for the startling state-of-the-art special
effects in this wonderful film
was none other than Willis J. O'Brien, the genius who
would later bring King
Kong to life. O'Brien had produced a number of short
films for Thomas Edison in 1917, and did the effects for
1918's The Ghost of
Slumber Mountain which is arguably the first
"feature-length" dinosaur movie.
The Lost World of 1925 was measured at 9209 feet --
approximately 10 reels
(a reel being 1000 feet) -- of 35mm film. It would have
run between 104 and
106 minutes depending upon the projection speed. A
musical cue sheet
indicates that it was intended to be shown at 23 frams
per second which would
have worked out to 106 minutes, but Variety reported that
the film ran 104
minutes on opening night.
Now the fun begins.
In 1929, Aileen Rothacker who held the remake rights to
Conan Doyle's novel
made an agreement to have First National (the ancestor of
Warner Brothers -
First National), withdraw the 1925 film from
distribution. The prints and all but
one domestic negative were to be junked. Sadly, even this
"all but one" negative
seems to have disappeared forever.
On July 8, 1929 First National made a sub-license
Kodascope Libraries, Inc. to make an abridged 16mm
version that ran 5 reels
(approximately 5300 feet or about 55 minutes). This
version was intended for
distribution to schools and churches, so all but the most
"essential" footage was
trimmed. Apparently this was edited from a print made
from the camera
negative and subsequently preserved in a 35mm dupe
negative. This, with the
exception of the original trailer which contains five
shots that originally appeared
in the film and some still photos of the missing scenes,
is all that survived of the
original The Lost World.
There was, in fact, a Cinemascope/color remake of The
Lost World in 1960
starring Michael (Klaatu) Rennie. Regretably, it is no
match for the original, so
we'll just leave it in peace.
In 1991, a laserdisc (LumiVision, LVD 9109) was released
with the best
existing version of the 1925 film, some supplementary
materials including the
trailer, and a still frame supplement that explained the
missing material. The disk
was mastered from the three remaining reels of 35mm
negative, and two 16mm
preservation prints that were in the possession of the
George Eastman House in
Rochester, New York.
In 1993, a Canadian company made a two part film version
of the book called
The Lost World and Return to the Lost World. Not widely
released, it was
actually a fairly faithful adaptation of the original
Conan Doyle story, but is
irretrievably scarred by a last minute budget cut
necessitating laughably cheap
papier-mâché dinosaurs that are a total disaster.
Then something miraculous happened.
In the Fall of 1991, Scott MacQueen (now film archivist
at the Walt Disney
Company) wrote an article about the 1925 The Lost World
Cinematographer Magazine. Someone named Pierce Rafferty
called in great
excitement. Rafferty operated a stock footage library in
New York City called
Petrified Films. They had purchased what had been the
Warner Brothers studio
stock footage library. In that library was a nitrate fine
grain positive of
dinosaurs! At 24 frames per second, it ran about 8
minutes. And Rafferty knew
from Scott's article exactly what it was from. These 8
minutes turned out to be
unused takes from The Lost World with technical flaws:
Camera fog, an
animator in frame, interrupted takes. Some may have been
alternate takes or
scenes that were excised before the release of the film.
MacQueen permission to preserve the negative, and money
was raised privately
to cover lab costs. The resulting copy negative was
gifted to the Eastman
Then, around 1992, Jan-Christopher Horak, formerly of
House somehow located a nearly full-length print of the
1925 film through
friends in Prague, Czechoslovakia at the Filmovy Archiv.
In addition, there were two "excerpts" of approximately
325 feet in 35mm at the
Library of Congress and additional material found in the
hands of two private
Using all of these materials, Ed Stratmann of the George
Eastman House, has
begun the job of "reconstructing" The Lost World with a
team of interns.
It is estimated that with all of the material available
to the restoration team,
between 8,000 and 8,500 feet of the original 9,209 will
be reconstituted. For
the first time in 72 years, the full narrative is there.
What is missing seems
actually to be minor snippets: Broken or spliced shots,
shattered reel ends, etc.
There is enough now of the original opening to know that
the story started with
the reporter, Edward Malone, promising his girlfriend
Gladys that he will do
something to make a name for himself so that she will
The actual lab work is being done by Haghefilm in the
resulting 35mm negative will be black and white, but
release prints will be tinted
using the Kodascope version and historical knowledge of
tinting as a guide.
The map for this reconstruction is a combination of the
script in the Academy
Film Archive and a script available in the Classic Images
series, plus a mass of
research information collected by the Eastman House over
That's the good news.
The bad news is that the estimated cost for all this will
exceed $50,000 US.
However, Y O U can help!
The Dinosaur Interplanetary Gazette, the ultimate
dinosaur site on the World
Wide Web (http://www.users.interport.net/~dinosaur) is
spearheading an effort
to raise these funds. The Dinosaur Interplanetary Gazette
has nearly 3000
readers and Films in Review Magazine (the oldest
newstand film magazine in the world and our collaborator
in this effort) has over
10,000. If all of these readers contributed a mere $5.00
each, The Lost World
can be saved.
So stop what you're doing. Get out your checkbook
right now. Please write
a check (for whatever you can afford even if it is only
one dollar) payable to
George Eastman House, pop it in a snail mail envelope,
and send it to:
Dinosaur Interplanetary Gazette's SAVE THE LOST
The George Eastman House
900 East Avenue
Rochester, NY 14607
The George Eastman House would love to be able to
premiere the real, true,
original The Lost World in this the year that the new
appears. It's been 72 years since this film was seen, and
it's about time we all
get a look!
----- END of article ----
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