Lost Horizon (1973)

Lost Horizon is widely considered one of the worst movies ever made. It's a musical, based on James Hilton's novel of the mythical Shangri-La. And it's not that bad. Actually, I liked it.

Part of the reason the movie flopped so badly, I think, is that it's a very strange brew. For the first forty minutes it's a very serious drama, no singing, no dancing, about a bunch of white people trying to escape from (poorly-staged) unrest in an un-named Middle Eastern country. This part of the movie is solid, good but not great, as our all-star cast soon finds themselves in a hopeless situation, lost and alone in a snowy, treacherous, and unmapped territory.

Then they're rescued, and brought to a hidden, secretive, zen society called Shangri-La, where their hosts are hospitable but mysterious, and then everyone starts bursting into song all the time. It's not just like a different movie, it's a different genre.

The stars have lots of overacting to do, and there's a ginormous plot hole I don't understand. Most of the songs are saccharine, and the actors aren't singing, they're dubbed. It's a mess, and it all adds up to nothing but a fairy tale.

But you know what? I like fairy tales, and this is a good one. A fairy tale about a civilized society where people treat each other with kindness, instead of shouts and threats and lies? That has a certain appeal for me.

Best line: "You be surprised how a little courtesy all around, can help smooth out the most complicated problems."



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