Lost Horizon was a Frank Capra film (1937) starring Ronald Coleman and Claudette Colbert. Coming after the disillusionment of the ‘Great War,’ (World War I) at the end of the long Depression and during a time of European Fascism and the Spanish Civil War, the escapist, life-affirming (and somewhat naive) film had an enormous impact on viewers – especially its depiction of a remote place where financial worries and wars were non-existent.
A flight is hijacked. The people on board include a British diplomat (Coleman), a writer, and a motley crew of expats (including a prostitute), and various other ner-do-wells. They land near ShangriLa in the Himilayan mountains…and come to a place that time seemingly forgot.
The conversation with the High Priest and Coleman struck me as a young teen wanting the world to be a better place. They are just as moving in light of today’s political environment.
In the words of the high Priest (Dalai 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 exulting 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 the 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.”