Lost Horizon (1937)
High Lama: Good evening, Mr. Conway. Please come in. Sit here, near me. I am an old man and can do no one any harm.
Robert Conway: Are you the High Lama?
High Lama: Yes. I trust you have been comfortable at Shangri-La, since your arrival.
Robert Conway: Personally, I've enjoyed your community very much. But my friends do not care for this mystery. They are determined to leave as soon as -
[looks down at the Lama's amputated leg, amazed]
Robert Conway: It's astonishing - and incredible, but...
High Lama: What is it, my son?
Robert Conway: You're the man Chang told me about! You're the first - who - two hundred years ago -
Robert Conway: you're still alive, Father Perrault!
High Lama: Sit down, my son. You may not know it, but I've 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 Conway: That I be brought here? Who had that brilliant idea?
High Lama: Sondra Bizet.
Robert Conway: [secretly pleased] Oh, the girl at the piano?
High Lama: Yes. She has read your books and has a profound admiration for you, as have we all.
Robert Conway: Of course I have suspected that our being here is 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 Conway: But 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. And 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 the 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 of 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, propelled by an orgy of greed and brutality. A 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 Conway: I understand you, Father.
High Lama: You must come again, my son. Good night.
Chang: Age is a limit we impose upon ourselves. You know, each time you Westerners celebrate your birthday, you build another fence around your minds.
Lord Gainsford: 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.
High Lama: I wanted to meet the Conway who in one of his books said: "There are moments in every mans life, when he glimpses the eternal". That Conway seemed to belong here.
Robert Conway: George, didn't you ever want to know what's on the other side of the mountain?
High Lama: Yes, of course, your brother is a problem. It was to be expected.
Robert Conway: I knew you'd understand. That's why I came to you for help.
High Lama: You must not look to me for help. Your brother is no longer my problem. He is now your problem, Conway
Robert Conway: Mine?
High Lama: Because, my son, 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 have waited for you, my son, for a long time. I have sat in this room and seen the faces of newcomers. I have 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.
Robert Conway: Do you think this will come in my time?
High Lama: 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 in the great distance a new world starting in the ruins - stirring clumsily - but in hopefulness, seeking its vast and legendary treasures. And they will all be here, my son, hidden behind the mountains in the Valley of the Blue Moon, preserved... as if by a miracle...
[a content Conway concluding a romantic interlude with Sondra]
Robert Conway: You know, when we were on that plane, I was fascinated by the way the shadow followed us. 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.
Alexander P. 'Lovey' Lovett: Conway, I don't like this place! It's too mysterious!
Book Pages: 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. / Our story starts in the war-torn Chinese city of Baskul, where Robert Conway has been sent to evacuate ninety white people before they are butchered in a local revolution. / Baskul - the night of March 10, 1935.
Alexander P. 'Lovey' Lovett: [seeing banquet spread] Well I, I just feel as though I'm being made ready for the executioner.
Barnard: [sniffing foods] Yeah, well if this be execution, lead me to it.
Alexander P. 'Lovey' Lovett: That's what they do with cattle, just before the slaughter.
Alexander P. 'Lovey' Lovett: We'd better make arrangements to get some porters immediately - some means of getting us back to civilization
Chang: Are you so certain you are away from it?
Chang: There is a tribe of porters some 500 miles from here. That is our only contact with the outside world. Every now and again, depending on favorable weather of course, they make the journey.
George Conway: How do we get in touch with them?
Chang: Well, in that respect, you are exceedingly fortunate. We are expecting a shipment from them almost any time now.
Barnard: Just want to do mean by, almost any time now?
Chang: Well, we've been expecting this particular shipment for the past two years...
Chang: It is very common here to live to a very ripe old age. Climate, diet - the mountain water you might say. But we like to believe it's the absence of struggle in the way we live. In your countries, on the other hand, how often do you hear the expression, "He worried himself to death," or "This thing or that killed him"?
Robert Conway: Oh, very often.
Chang: And very true. Your lives are, as a rule, shorter. Not so much by natural death, as by indirect suicide.
Robert Conway: Mr. Chang, if you don't mind, I think I'll go on being amazed - in moderation go course...
George Conway: Well what d'ya want him to do?
Alexander P. 'Lovey' Lovett: I don't know - I'm a paleontologist, not a Foreign Secretary.
Gloria: You'd better take some of those squealing men with you first. They might faint on you. I'll wait.
Robert Conway: Did you make that report out yet?
George Conway: Yes, Bob.
Robert Conway: Did you say we saved ninety white people?
George Conway: Yes.
Robert Conway: Good. Hooray for us. Ha-ha. Did you say that we left ten thousand natives down there to be annihilated? No. No, you wouldn't say that.
Robert Conway: They don't count.
Alexander P. 'Lovey' Lovett: I don't know why I'm talking to you. Don't know you. Who are you?
Barnard: Okay, brother.
Alexander P. 'Lovey' Lovett: Don't call me brother.
Barnard: Okay, sister.
Barnard: Good morning, Lovey.
Alexander P. 'Lovey' Lovett: I beg pardon?
Barnard: I say, good morning, Lovey.
Alexander P. 'Lovey' Lovett: Good morning. Look here, young man, I didn't care for sister last night and I don't like Lovey this morning. My name is Lovett, Alexander P.
Chang: You shouldn't be looking at the bottom of the mountain. Why don't you try looking up at the top, some time.
Barnard: How 'bout you, Lovey? Come on, let's you and I play a game of honeymoon bridge.
Alexander P. 'Lovey' Lovett: Oh, I'm thinking.
Barnard: Thinking? What about some double solitaire?
Alexander P. 'Lovey' Lovett: As a matter of fact, I'm very good at double solitaire.
Barnard: No kidding.
Barnard: Then, I'm your man. Come on, toots!
Chang: 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.
Robert Conway: You have no disputes over women?
Chang: Only very rarely. You see, it would not be considered good manners to take a woman that another man wanted.
Robert Conway: Supposed somebody wanted her so badly that he didn't give a hang if it was good manners or not?
Chang: Well, in that event, it would be good manners on the part of the other man to let him have her.
Lord Gainsford: Yes. Yes, I believe it. I believe it, because I want to believe it.
Robert Conway: [On the plane, having been evacuated] Hello, Freshie. Did you make that report out yet?
George Conway: Yes, Bob.
Robert Conway: Did you say we saved 90 white people?
George Conway: Yes.
Robert Conway: Good. Hooray for us. Did you say we left 10,000 natives down there to be annihilated? No... No, you wouldn't say that. They don't count.
George Conway: You better try to get some sleep, Bob.
Robert Conway: Just you wait till I'm Foreign Secretary. Ha ha... Can't you just see me, Freshie, with all those other shrewd little Foreign Secretaries? You see, the trick is, to see who can out-talk the other. Everybody wants something for nothing. If you can't get it with smooth talk, you... send your army in. But I'm going to fool them, Freshie. I'm not going to have an army. I'm going to disband mine. I'm going to sink my battleships. I'm going to destroy every piece of war craft. Then, when the enemy approaches, we'll say, "Come in, gentlemen! What can we do for you?" So then the poor enemy soldiers will stop and think. And what will they think, Freshie? They'll say to themselves, "There's something wrong here, we've been duped! This is not according to form. These people seem quite friendly, and why should we shoot them?" Then they'll lay down their arms. You see how simple the whole thing is? Ha! Centuries of tradition kicked right in the pants. Ha ha... and I'll be slapped straight into the nearest insane asylum.
George Conway: You'd better not drink any more, Bob. You're not talking sense.
Robert Conway: Don't worry, George. Nothing's going to happen. I'll fall right into line... I'll be the good little boy that everybody wants me to be. I'll be the best little Foreign Secretary that we've ever had. Just because I haven't the nerve... to be anything else.
George Conway: Do try to sleep, Bob.
Robert Conway: Sleep, yes. Good thing, sleep. Ever notice the sunrise in China, George? Ah, you should... it's beautiful.
Chang: [referring to Maria] Charming, isn't she?
Robert Conway: Ah, yes, charming.
Chang: Your brother seems quite fascinated by her.
Robert Conway: Well, why not? She's an attractive young woman.
Chang: Young? She arrived here in 1888. She was 20 at the time. She was on her way to join her betrothed, when her couriers lost their way in the mountains. The whole party would have perished without for meeting with some of our people.
Robert Conway: Amazing. She still doesn't look over 20. When is she likely to grow old in appearance?
Chang: Oh, not for years. Shangri-La will keep her youthful indefinitely.
Robert Conway: Suppose she should leave?
Chang: Leave Shangir-La? Ha ha, that's not likely, you couldn't drive her out.
Robert Conway: No, I mean about her appearance. If she should leave the valley, what would happen?
Chang: Oh... she'd quickly revert in appearance to her actual age.
Robert Conway: Huh... Ah, it's weird.
Robert Conway: [in reference to the High Lama] And that's the whole story, George. He died as peacefully as the passing of a cloud's shadow. His last words to me were, "I place in your hands, my son, the future and destiny of Shangri-La." Now you know why I can't leave.
Chang: [Visiting Gloria in her room; she is ill] Please calm yourself. You'll soon be well if you do.
Gloria: I don't need any advice from you. Get me a doctor!
Chang: [unperturbed] I'm sorry, we have no doctors here.
Gloria: "No doctors"... Well, that's fine. That's just fine!
Chang: Please let me help you.
Gloria: Sure you can help me. You can help me jump over that cliff! I've been lookin' and lookin' at the bottom of that mountain, but I haven't got the nerve to jump.
Chang: You shouldn't be looking at the bottom of the mountain. Why don't you try looking up at the top sometime?
Gloria: Don't preach that cheap secondhand stuff to me! Go on, beat it! BEAT IT!
Chang: [unperturbed] Peace be with you, my child.
Robert Conway: By the way, what religion do you follow here?
Chang: To put it simply, I should say that our general belief was in, uh, moderation. We preach the virtue of avoiding excesses of every kind. Even including excess of virtue itself.
Robert Conway: Well, that's intelligent.
Chang: We find in the valley that it makes for better 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, uh, somewhat more than moderately happy.
Robert Conway: How about law, and order? You have no soldiers, or police?
Chang: [chuckling] Oh, good heavens, no!
Robert Conway: Well, how do you deal with incorrigibles? Criminals?
Chang: Why, we have no crime here. What makes a criminal? Lack, usually. Avariciousness. Envy. The desire to possess something owned by another. There can be no crime where there is a sufficiency of everything.
Lord Gainsford: Gentlemen, you see before you a very weary old man, who has just ended a chase that lasted nearly ten months.
Meeker: Do you mean to tell me you never caught up with him?
Lord Gainsford: Since that night that he jumped off the ship until two weeks ago, I've been missing him by inches.
Meeker: You don't mean it!
Wynant: Think of it!
First Man - Robertson: He was as determined as that to get back?
Lord Gainsford: Determined! Gentlemen, in the whole course of my life, I have never encountered anything so grim. During these last ten months, that man has done the most astounding things. He learned how to fly, stole an army plane and got caught, put into jail, escaped... all in an amazingly short space of time. But this was only the beginning of his adventures. 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. Until eventually, I trailed him to the most extreme outpost in Tibet. Of course he had already gone. But his memory - ah - 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 where 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 - whom 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.
Wynant: Think of it!
Carstairs - Man at Club: By jove, that's what I call fortitude!
First Man - Robertson: Tell me something, Gainsford. What do you think of his talk about Shangri-La? Do you believe it?
Lord Gainsford: Yes. Yes, I believe it. I believe it, because I want to believe it.
[as he lifts his glass]
Lord Gainsford: Gentlemen, I give you a toast. Here is my hope that Robert Conway will find his Shangri-La! Here is my hope that we all find our Shangri-La.