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The Lost World

Directed by Harry O. Hoyt

Live musical score from John Garden

USA, 1925

Cornerhouse, 16 October 2011

Adventures abound in Hoyt’s classic movie, ideal Saturday matinee fare even for a Sunday afternoon in Manchester.

The film has been newly scored by John Garden, the Scissor Sisters’ musical director, who played live.

It holds up surprisingly well as a film, being by turns exciting, full of bluster and melodrama, poignant – and with the odd ounce of humour and irony.  Lewis Stone’s performance could hardly be improved upon even now, somehow he knew instinctively how to act to camera.  John Garden’s score invigorates the film, adding dollops of colour, and really comes into its own during the scenes where the dinosaur is on the loose in London town.  One fellow coming out of a pub does a double-take when he sees it, minus its top hat.  Has he really drunk that much tonight?

It is not a completely lost world, of course, since we still have the crocodile, itself a dinosaur or at any rate an archosaurian reptile (same difference). Or consider the birds, what with their shared wishbones and what not.

You can see that The Lost World was a clear influence on many films that were to follow: King Kong, Godzilla, Jurassic Park

There has been quite a trend in recent times for modern musicians to score silent movies.  Otto Smart has written music for The Lodger and Steven Severin has scored Cocteau’s Blood of a Poet.  John Garden’s music was terrific, right up there with the best of them, and the film will be shown again at the Natural History Museum on Friday, details here.

A forthcoming event at Cornerhouse along the same lines is a screening of John Grierson’s Drifters (1929), which will feature live musical accompaniment by Jason Singh.  Further details of this film can be found here.