Abstract or Introduction
At first sight, Lost Horizon may be understood as a utopia, a paradise opposed to the wartorn world of 1937. At that time, there had already been quite a number of incidents which would lead up to the Second World War, especially concerning the Japanese attempts to colonize Asia. One of these attempts would be the 1931 invasion of Manchuria by the Japanese army, and the establishment of the puppet state Manchukuo, another would be the 1937 Marco Polo Bridge Incident, which brought about the beginning of the second Sino-Japanese War. However, I do not consider Lost Horizon as the portrayal of a paradise: in my opinion, the movie perpetuates stereotypes about Asians. This was certainly true in the 1930s, but this effect may still show today for many people still hold the same stereotypes today. They include the idea that Asians are followers, that they belong to an inferior culture, that they have accents, and so on.
The idea that Asians are followers is most evident in the leading role of white people like the High Lama, Father Perrault, and Robert Conway, a little less evident if one looks at the fact that Sondra, a white woman, is the school teacher of the Asian children, and, therefore, a leader, too. However, most leaders are men. We soon find out that Chang, who first appears to be a leader, is, in reality, only a puppet of the High Lama. Except Chang, who is, in a way, a perfect imitation of a white man and a product of Father Perrault, Asians hardly speak or act at all as individuals. This idea of whites leading and Asians following is also apparent in the music played in the background of many scenes: tranquil and monotonous music is used to assert Asian passiveness, whereas loud music is used to emphasize white activeness. All seems to indicate, moreover, that there is a definite need for a white leader in Shangri-La. It seems unimaginable for Father Perrault to make an Asian, even his creation Chang who is the imitation of a white man, a leader. He rather takes immeasurable efforts to lead Conway, a real white, to Shangri-La.
- Quote paper
- B.A. Stephanie Wössner (Author), 2003, Lost Horizon - A film review, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/138122