Directed by Frank Capra • 1937 • United States
Starring Ronald Colman, Jane Wyatt, Edward Everett Horton
Introduction: This film has been programmed as part of the series Hollywood Chinese, a survey on the history of Chinese representation in American cinema, curated by filmmaker Arthur Dong. He notes: “This beloved classic presents a paradise situated in Chinese territory, and as such, tells a Hollywood story set against a backdrop of colonialist ideals perpetrated by white saviors who subjugate the indigenous population.” For further context, we recommend watching Mr. Dong’s series introduction and his documentary HOLLYWOOD CHINESE, now playing on the Channel.
Although it is of the same quality as classics like MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN and IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT, LOST HORIZON is unlike any other film Frank Capra made, setting out for a world of adventure and fantasy. Adapted from James Hilton’s novel, the film stars Ronald Colman as Robert Conway, a British diplomat who, together with five other survivors of a plane crash in the Tibetan mountains, finds himself in an earthly paradise known as Shangri-La. Taken to a magnificent structure and given luxurious rooms, the Europeans soon discover the tranquility of this hidden land where nothing is known of greed, war, hatred, or crime. But is Shangri-La all that it promises to be—or are we simply afraid to believe that it could be?