The Lost World (1925) DVD Review
Reviewed by Charles Prepolec
DVD Cover
The new DVD release of the 1925 version of The Lost World is simply a marvel and yet another confirmation of why DVD is the film lover’s choice of format. Released on April 3, 2001 by Image Entertainment, the disc was promoted by producer David Shepard as containing “…50% more footage than any print generally available for the past 70 years.”  And what a print it is!
Although The Lost World of 1925 has never been considered a truly “lost” film, it has however only been available in much-abridged versions (each less than 1-hour in length). Thankfully, using an amalgamation of 8 original source prints and fragments, this new version restores the film to 94 minutes of its original 104-minute running time. The various prints were digitally mastered to video and cleaned of much of the debris common to films of the period. The result is a stunningly impressive film that captures as much of the splendor of the original release as is possible at this time. Utilizing Doyle’s novel, the original shooting script and printed sheet music of 1925 as guides, the film now presents a far more cohesive story line than ever before, including the long lost intro featuring Ed Malone and Gladys Hungerford.

Not content to just present this amazing film on its own, the folks at
Image have also included 13 minutes of previously unseen animation outtakes that highlight the amazing work of technical director and stop-motion pioneer Willis O’Brien. The outtakes feature incredible close-ups of some of the more than 50 dinosaur models in action. The footage clearly demonstrates the quality and attention to detail that typified O’Brien’s work. His pioneering skill in stop-motion animation would eventually lead to universal acclaim with the 1933 release of the similarly themed King Kong.  

Also on this DVD release is a choice of 3 distinct audio tracks. The first features a traditional piano-based musical score by Robert Israel in 2.0 Dolby Stereo. The second is a modern orchestral score by The Alloy Orchestra in 5.1 Surround Sound, which incorporates various sound effects matched to the screen action. The 3rd track is an audio commentary by Roy Pilot, co-author of
The Annotated Lost World. Roy Pilot’s commentary, laid overtop the Israel score, gives some excellent insight to the background of both Doyle’s original novel as well as the film itself. Unfortunately the commentary is not continuous and only covers about one third of the total running time, but still proves to be interesting and informative.

To round out the package,
Image has included a reproduction of the original souvenir program. The highlight of which is the final page’s advertisement for the sheet music to a bizarre song inspired by the film. I kid you not! It assures the reader that “This is going to be one of the song hits of the year so you should have it on your piano and in the shelf with your phonograph records!

Although I can’t vouch for the song, I can say that
The Lost World DVD is a first rate package that restores this film to the classic status it so richly deserves.  Sure the film itself is a touch corny and plays fast and loose with the story, but it is still the best film version of the novel. So, whether you are a Conan Doyle aficionado or a fan of stop motion animation, I urge you to check out this DVD today!
Lewis Stone as John Roxton Wallace Beery as Professor Challenger
Note: A previous DVD of the 1925 Lost World was released by E Realbiz in 1999. The restoration is not the same. Make sure that the studio/distributor is Image Entertainment if you are looking for the version reviewed here.
For further information on the film, including plot synopses and cast lists, try the following links:
DVD Journal - provides a comprhensive DVD review including film synopsis and history
IMDB Listing
- provides cast information
Doyle'sTrick - provides details of Conan doyle's 1922 stunt at the SAM meeting
The Lost World site - provides info on various dramatizations of the Doyle novel
The Dinosaur Interplanetary Gazette - provides info on one of the film's resorations and more
Silents Are Golden - provides a couple contemporary reviews of the 1925 film
"The Lost World" of Willis O’Brien by Roy Kinnard -  published script available from McFarland Publishing
DVD Planet - A reliable online DVD retailer where I purchased The Lost World
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