Lost Horizon (film)

1937 film by Frank Capra, Andrew Marton

Lost Horizon is a 1937 American film about a group of travelers who find a utopian society in the Himalaya mountains.

All my life, I've been rushing up and down hills, leaping rivers, crashing over obstacles, never dreaming that one day that beautiful thing in flight would land on this earth and into my arms.
Directed by Frank Capra.  Written by Robert Riskin, based on the novel by James Hilton.
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Robert Conway

  • It's time we were told what it's all about. We want to know why we were kidnapped, why we're being kept here, but most important of all, do we get the porters and when? Until we get this information, my dear Mr. Chang, I am very much afraid we cannot permit you to leave this room….
  • [to the High Lama] It's astonishing and incredible, but…you're the man…You're still alive, Father Perrault!
  • When we were on that plane, I was fascinated by the way its shadow followed it. That silly shadow, racing along over mountains and valleys, covering ten times the distance of the plane, and yet always there to greet us with outstretched arms when we landed. And I've been thinking that somehow, you're that plane, and I'm that silly shadow. That all my life, I've been rushing up and down hills, leaping rivers, crashing over obstacles, never dreaming that one day that beautiful thing in flight would land on this earth and into my arms.
  • Something grand and beautiful, George. Something I've been searching for all my life. The answer to the confusion and bewilderment of a lifetime. I've found it, George, and I can't leave it. You mustn't either.
  • [to George, about Maria] She's a fragile thing that can only live where fragile things are loved. Take her out of this valley and she'll fade away like an echo.

Sondra Bizet

  • [to Robert] I saw a man whose life was empty…Oh I know, it was full of this and full of that. But you were accomplishing nothing. You were going nowhere, and you knew it. As a matter of fact, all I saw was a little boy whistling in the dark.
  • [to Sondra] You're absolutely right. And I had to come all the way to a pigeon house in Shangri-La to find the only other person in the world who knew it. May I congratulate you? thanks for evry thing

George Conway

I'm not content to be a prisoner.  I'm going to find out when we're going to get out of this place.
  • You may not know it, but you're all prisoners here who were literally kidnapped and brought here and nobody knows why. Well, I'm not content to be a prisoner. I'm going to find out when we're going to get out of this place. I'll make that Chinese talk if it's the last thing I do.
  • [to Robert] What else can I think after a tale like that?…I think you've been hypnotized by a lot of loose-brained fanatics.


  • To put it simply, I should say that our general belief was in moderation. We preach the virtue of avoiding excesses of every kind, even including excess of virtue itself…We find in the valley it makes for greater happiness among the natives. We rule with moderate strictness and in return we are satisfied with moderate obedience. As a result, our people are moderately honest, moderately chaste, and somewhat more than moderately happy.
  • There can be no crime where there is a sufficiency of everything.
  • It would not be considered good manners to take a woman that another man wanted.
  • A little courtesy all around helps to smooth out the most complicated problems.
  • We do not buy or sell or seek personal fortunes because, well, there is no uncertain future here for which to accumulate it.
  • In fact, Shangri-La is Father Perrault.
  • It is quite common here to live to a very ripe old age, climate, diet, and mountain water you might say, but we like to believe it is the absence of struggle in the way we live.
  • Age is a limit we impose upon ourselves.

Lord Gainesford

  • Last night, Conway recovered his memory. Kept talking about Shangri-La. Telling a fantastic story about a place in Tibet. Insisted upon returning there at once. Locked him in room, but he escaped us. Jumped ship during night at Singapore. Am leaving ship myself to overtake him, as fearful of his condition. Wrote down details of Conway's story about Shangri-La, which I am forwarding.
  • During those last ten months, that man has done the most astounding things. Well, he learned how to fly, stole an Army plane and got caught, put into jail and escaped, all in an amazingly short space of time, but this is only the beginning of his adventure. He begged, cajoled, fought, always pushing forward to the Tibetan frontier. Everywhere I went, I heard the most amazing stories of the man's adventures. Positively astounding, till eventually, I trailed him to the most extreme outposts in Tibet. Of course, he had already gone, but his memory, oh, oh… His memory will live with those natives for the rest of their lives. 'The man who was not human,' they called him. They'll never forget the devil-eyed stranger who six times tried to go over a mountain pass that no other human being dared to travel, and six times was forced back by the severest storms. They'll never forget the madman who stole their food and clothing, who they locked up in their barracks but who fought six of their guards to escape. Why, their soldiers are still talking about their pursuit to overtake him and shuddering at the memory. He led them the wildest chase through their own country. And finally, he disappeared over that very mountain pass that they themselves dared not travel. And that, gentlemen, was the last that any known human being saw of Robert Conway.
  • Yes. Yes, I believe it. I believe it because I want to believe it. Gentlemen, I give you a toast. Here's my hope that Robert Conway will find his Shangri-La. Here's my hope that we all find our Shangri-La.


  • Title Cards: In these days of wars and rumors of wars - haven't you ever dreamed of a place where there was peace and security, where living was not a struggle but a lasting delight? Of course you have. So has every man since Time began. Always the same dream. Sometimes he calls it Utopia - Sometimes the Fountain of Youth - Sometimes merely "that little chicken farm." One man had such a dream and saw it come true. He was Robert Conway - England's "Man of the East" - soldier, diplomat, public hero.
  • High Lama: [to Robert] I am placing in your hands the future and destiny of Shangri-La, for I am going to die. I knew my work was done when I first set eyes upon you. I've waited for you, my son, for a long time. I've sat in this room and seen the faces of newcomers. I've looked into their eyes and heard their voices, always in hope that I might find you. My friend, it is not an arduous task that I bequeath, for our order knows only silken bonds. To be gentle and patient, to care for the riches of the mind, to preside in wisdom while the storm rages without…You, my son, will live through the storm. You will preserve the fragrance of our history and add to it a touch of your own mind. Beyond that, my vision weakens but I see at a great distance a new world stirring in the ruins, stirring clumsily but in hopefulness, seeking its lost and legendary treasures, and they will all be here, my son, hidden behind the mountains in the Valley of the Blue Moon, preserved as by a miracle.
  • Maria: I'll die if I have to stay here another minute…Look at me, Mr. Conway, do I look like an old woman? Is this the skin of an old woman? Look into my eyes. Are these the eyes of an old woman?


George: We better make arrangements to get some porters immediately. Some means to get us back to civilization.
Chang: Are you so certain you are away from it?
George: As far away as I ever want to be.

Chang: The High Lama wishes to see you, Mr. Conway.
Robert: High Lamas or Low Lamas, do we get the porters?
Chang: The High Lama arranges everything.

High Lama: You may not know it, but I have been an admirer of yours for a great many years. Oh, not of Conway, the empire builder and public hero. I wanted to meet the Conway who, in one of his books said, 'There are moments in every man's life when he glimpses the eternal.' That Conway seemed to belong here. In fact, it was suggested that someone be sent to bring him here.
Robert: Of course, I have suspected that our being here was no accident. Furthermore, I have a feeling that we're never supposed to leave, but that for the moment, doesn't concern me greatly. I'll meet that when it comes. What particularly interests me at present is, why was I brought here? What possible use can I be to an already thriving community?
High Lama: We need men like you here, to be sure that our community will continue to thrive, in return for which Shangri-La has much to give you. You are still, by the world's standards, a youngish man. Yet, in the normal course of existence, you can expect twenty or thirty years of gradually diminishing activity. Here, however, in Shangri-La, by our standards, your life has just begun - and may go on and on.
Robert: Hmm. Of course, to be candid, Father, a prolonged future doesn't excite me. It would have to have a point. I've sometimes doubted whether life itself has any. If that is so, then long life must be even more pointless. No, I'd need a much more definite reason for going on and on.
High Lama: We have reason. It is the entire meaning and purpose of Shangri-La. It came to me in a vision long, long ago. I saw all the nations strengthening, not in wisdom, but in the vulgar passions and the will to destroy. I saw their machine power multiplying until a single weaponed man might match a whole army. I foresaw a time when man exalting in the technique of murder, would rage so hotly over the world, that every book, every treasure would be doomed to destruction. This vision was so vivid and so moving that I determined to gather together all things of beauty and culture that I could and preserve them here against the doom toward which the world is rushing. Look at the world today. Is there anything more pitiful? What madness there is! What blindness! What unintelligent leadership! A scurrying mass of bewildered humanity crashing headlong against each other, compelled by an orgy of greed and brutality. The time must come, my friend, when this orgy will spend itself, when brutality and the lust for power must perish by its own sword. Against that time is why I avoided death and am here and why you were brought here. For when that day comes, the world must begin to look for a new life. And it is our hope that they may find it here. For here, we shall be with their books and their music and a way of life based on one simple rule: Be kind. When that day comes, it is our hope that the brotherly love of Shangri-La will spread throughout the world. Yes, my son, when the strong have devoured each other, the Christian ethic may at last be fulfilled, and the meek shall inherit the Earth.
Robert: I understand you, Father.
High Lama: You must come again, my son.

Robert: Of course, I can't quite get used to this age thing.
Sondra: I'm thirty.
Robert: Oh, you're gonna make life very simple. It's inconceivable.
Sondra: What?
Robert: All of it. Father Perrault and his magnificent history. This place hidden away from the rest of the world with its glorious concepts. And now you come along and confuse me entirely.
Sondra: Oh, I'm sorry. I thought I was to be the light. But why do I confuse you? Am I so strange?
Robert: Oh, on the contrary, you're not strange. And that, in itself, is confusing. I had the same idea about, about Shangri-La. A sense that I've been here before, that I belonged here.
Sondra: I'm so glad.
Robert: I can't quite explain it, but everything is somehow familiar. The very air I breathe, the Lamasery with its feet rooted in the good earth of this fertile valley while its head explores the eternal. All the beautiful things I see - these cherry blossoms, you. All are somehow familiar. I've been kidnapped and brought here against my will. A crime, a great crime, yet I accept it amiably, with the same warm amiability one tolerates only from a very dear and close friend. Why? Can you tell me why?
Sondra: Perhaps because you've always been a part of Shangri-La without knowing it.
Robert: I wonder.
Sondra: I'm sure of it, just as I'm sure there's a wish for Shangri-La in everyone's heart. I've never seen the outside world, but I understand there are millions and millions of people who are supposed to be mean and greedy. And I just know that secretly, they're all hoping to find a garden spot where there's peace, security, where there's beauty and comfort, where they wouldn't have to be mean and greedy. Oh, I just wish the whole world might come to this valley.
Robert: Then it wouldn't be a garden spot for long.

Robert: I'm waiting for the bump.
Sondra: Bump?
Robert: When the plane lands at Shanghai and wakes us all up. [Sondra pinches his arm] Ouch!
Sondra: You see, it's not a dream.
Robert: You know, I sometimes think that the other is the dream, the outside world.

Sondra: I knew you'd come. And I knew when you did, you'd never leave. Am I forgiven for sending for you?
Robert: Forgiven. [kisses her forehead]


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