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REVIEW – The Lost Patrol (1934)

February 2, 2011

One of the more depressing cinematic experiences I had last year was going to see Matt Reeves’ timid remake of Tomas Alfredson’s superlative Let The Right One In.  I was lured into the cinema on the promise that the American version teased certain elements out of the original text that Alfredson’s film missed but what I got was pretty much a shot-for-shot remake.  Pointless hack-work aimed at culturally insular Americans.  Some might say that this was inevitable and that there is no point in remakes, but I do not think that this is necessarily true.  Some films positively overflow with great ideas but somehow manage to fuck up the implementation.

As my review of John Ford’s largely overlooked The Lost Patrol makes, clear, I think that it is a film that is absolutely ripe for a re-make.  Set in the Mesopotamian desert during the first world war, the film tells of a group of British soldiers who lose their officer and their way in the middle of the desert.  Under attack from unseen assailants, the soldiers hole-up in an abandoned mosque and slowly go mad.  Boasting Boris Karloff, the film is rushed and has too many characters to ever settle down into the psychological register the subject requires but there are some lovely ideas hidden in this film.  They just need someone to unleash them.

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