The Making of Frank Capra's Lost Horizon

    Wednesday January 4, 2012 @ 1:00 PM

    Price: $10.00

    1999, USA, John Paul Rosas, 30 min.

    A fascinating documentary detailing the technical hurdles Frank Capra had to surmount to bring his utopian vision of Shangri-La to the screen, and the story of the film's disintegration after its first public presentation. The narration is by film historian Kendall Miller.

    Post-screening discussion with Professor of Film Studies at Columbia University and Program Director of the Film Society of Lincoln Center Richard Peña

    $10/ Free to Members

    The Cabaret Cinema screening of the fully restored 138-minute version of Capra's Lost Horizon is Friday, January 6 at 9:30 p.m.; the Cabaret Cinema screening of the musical remake of Lost Horizon, with a score by Burt Bacharach and Hal David is on Friday, January 27 at 9:30 p.m. These screenings complement the exhibition Hero, Villain, Yeti: Tibet in Comics.

    Lost Horizon has appeared in several different versions over the years. During its nearly two-year production it was Columbia Pictures' most expensive project to date, and Capra's first rough-cut ran six hours, which he chopped down to three-and-a-half for its first test screening. Finally, his preferred 138-minute edition was shown at the film's premiere, but Columbia cut this down to 118 minutes not long thereafter. When the film was re-released during World War II, its length was further reduced, and small changes were made to lend to the propaganda of the times (the title was even changed, briefly, to The Lost Horizon of Shangri-La). And as these cuts and alterations were made, the original footage started to disappear. In the 1960s, Columbia discovered that their own nitrate negative was highly unstable, and they made one last print from it, which they then turned over to the American Film Institute. The restoration process of Lost Horizon began in earnest in 1974, with the goal of restoring Capra's 138-minute edition. The entire soundtrack was later discovered in Great Britain, but after a tireless search for missing footage, seven minutes of Capra's original could not be found. In the current restored version, still photos are imposed during these segments while the soundtrack is heard.  -

    Richard Peña has been the Program Director of the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the Director of the New York Film Festival since 1988. At the Film Society, Richard Peña has organized retrospectives of Michelangelo Antonioni, Sacha Guitry, Abbas Kiarostami,  Robert Aldrich, Roberto Gavaldon, Ritwik Ghatak, Kira Muratova, Youssef Chahine, Yasujiro Ozu, Carlos Saura and Amitabh Bachchan, as well as major film series devoted to African, Israeli, Cuban, Polish, Hungarian, Arab, Korean, Swedish, Taiwanese and Argentine cinema. He is a Professor of Film Studies at Columbia University, where he specializes in film theory and international cinema, and from 2006-2009 was a Visiting Professor in Spanish at Princeton University. He is also currently the co-host of WNET/Channel 13's weekly Reel 13.

    *Special documentary screening that complements the exhibition Hero, Villain, Yeti: Tibet in Comics, now on view.