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Inspirations: Lost Horizon

April 27th, 2012 by Fitz, Inspirations, 0 Comments

Lost Horizon book

A hidden land that draws people to itself for mysterious purposes? A place of exceptional beauty who’s inhabitants are preternaturally healthy and long-lived? The island from TV show Lost? No, even better! Shangri-la from book and movie Lost Horizon.

Lost Horizon was written by James Hilton in 1933 and became quite popular. It tells the tale of a group of Brits who are spirited away to the utopian land of Shangri-La deep in Tibet (the book invented the word “Shangri-La”). The characters discover the secrets of Shangri-La, its dire mission, and make peace with their own personal troubles. Unlike so many other “lost world” stories, this is one of hope and optimism that doesn’t end with a volcano erupting, an earthquake trembling, or some other cataclysmic finale.

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Lost Horizon Book on Amazon

Lost Horizon is one of those exceptionally rare stories that turned out equally well in print and film. Both are just as good. Frank Capra directed the film adaptation (which was lost itself for many years till film preservationist salvaged most of it) and did a top-notch job. The film as a box office flop but is now considered one of his overlooked masterpieces.

One thing I really like about the movie is the inclusion of a gay character: Alexander P. Lovett (played by Edward Everett Horton). His sexuality is never explicit stated but it’s made obvious enough. Another character named Thomas takes to teasing Mr. Lovett by calling him “Lovey” – much to Lovett’s annoyance. There’s no malice in Thomas’ barbs, however, as they’re more the “I know you’re gay, now accept it yourself” variety. Indeed, towards the end of the movie, Lovett makes peace with himself and decides “Lovely” is a fine name and embraces it warmly. :)

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Lost Horizon MovieAmazon | iTunes

Lost Horizon is a great fantasy containing many real truths but perhaps its most potent illumination is on the power of travel itself. Stepping beyond the familiar and the comfortable allows you to view your life with increased clarity. It allows you to better understand what you want and what truly makes you happy. Shangri-La or not, isn’t that the real power of travel, the power of perspective?