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Lost Horizon

I was sent some info by Erick about a film called Lost Horizon, I looked it up and discovered it was based on a novel by the same name. I was interested to see a number of resemblances between it and Lost.

Hugh Conway, a veteran member of the British diplomatic service, finds inner peace, love, and a sense of purpose in Shangri-La, a utopian lamasery high in the Himalayas in Tibet, whose inhabitants enjoy longevity. Among the book's themes is the allusion of the possibility of another cataclysmic world war brewing, as indeed it was. It is said to have been inspired at least in part by accounts of travels in Tibetan borderlands, published in the National Geographic by the explorer and botanist Joseph Rock. The remote communities he visited, such as Muli, show many similarities to the fictional Shangri-La. One such town, Zhongdian, has now officially renamed itself as Shangri La (Chinese: Xianggelila) because of its claim to be the inspiration for the novel.

The origin of the eleven numbered chapters of the novel is explained in a prologue and epilogue, whose narrator is a neurologist.

This neurologist and a novelist friend, Rutherford, are given dinner at Tempelhof, Berlin, by their old school-friend Wyland, a secretary at the British embassy. A chance remark by a passing airman brings up the topic of Hugh Conway, a British consul in India, who disappeared under odd circumstances. Later in the evening, Rutherford reveals to the narrator that, after the disappearance, he discovered Conway in a French mission hospital in Chung-Kiang [probably Chongqing], China, suffering from amnesia. Conway recovered his memory and told Rutherford his story, then slipped away again.

Rutherford wrote down Conway's story; he gives the manuscript to the neurologist, and that manuscript becomes the heart of the novel.

In May, 1931, during the British Raj, owing to a revolution, the 80 white residents of Baskul are being evacuated to Peshawur. In the airplane of the Maharajah of Chandrapore are Conway, the British consul, age 37; Mallinson, his young vice-consul; an American, Bernard; and a British missionary, Miss Brinklow. The plane is flown instead over the mountains to Tibet. After a crash landing, the pilot dies, but not before telling the four (in Chinese, which Conway knows) to seek shelter at the nearby lamasery of Shangri-La.

The four are taken there by a party directed by Chang, a postulant at the lamasery who speaks English. The lamasery has modern conveniences, like central heating, and bathtubs from Akron, Ohio; a large library; a grand piano; and food from the fertile valley below. Towering above is Karakal, "Blue Moon," a mountain more than 29 000 feet high.

Mallinson is keen to hire porters and leave, but Chang politely puts him off. The others eventually decide they are content to stay: Miss Brinklow, to teach the people a sense of sin; Bernard, because he is really Chalmers Bryant, wanted by the police for stock fraud, and because he is keen to develop the gold-mines in the valley; Conway, because the contemplative scholarly life suits him.

Conway is given an audience with the High Lama, an unheard-of honor. He learns that the lamasery was constructed in its present form by a Jesuit named Perrault from Luxembourg, in the early eighteenth century. The lamasery has since then been joined by others who have found their way into the valley. Once they have done so, their aging slows; if they then leave the valley, they will age quickly, and die. The High Lama is Perrault.

A seemingly young Manchu woman, Lo-Tsen, is another postulant at the lamasery; she does not speak English, but plays the piano. Conway and Mallinson fall in love with her.

In a later audience, the High Lama says that he is finally dying, and that he wants Conway to lead the lamasery. Meanwhile, Mallinson has arranged to leave the valley with porters, and Lo-Tsen, who are five miles outside. He cannot travel the dangerous five miles by himself. Conway agrees to go along.

Source: WikiPedia

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