Charlie Hunnam Sienna Miller Tom Holland Robert Pattinson Angus Macfadyen
A gripping tale about one man’s obsession to make his mark on the world by locating the remains of a city that may have existed in the Amazon Jungle of Bolivia from 200 A.D. to the 1600’s. Percy Fawcett (Hunnam), a middle-class British man in the early part of the century, is trying to be recognized for his military service, but now, the Royal Geographical Society has contacted him. He had distinguished himself in college with his mapping skills, and the Society wants him to use these skills in the Amazon, where Bolivia and Brazil are quarrelling about their boundaries, by mapping the river that courses between their two countries. This would be an objective way to settle the dispute and avoid war.
Fawcett is an earnest young man determined to over-ride his father’s disreputable reputation. The complication is that he is married and has a young son, Jack. But his wife Nina (Miller) shares his ambition and is as caught up in the quest for adventure and fame as he is. So she gives her blessing and even does research in the library to help his cause.
Fawcett will make more than one journey into the Amazon Jungle, have both peaceful and life-threatening encounters with the natives, deal with unpredictable members of his parties, have to put off his wife who wants to accompany him on one expedition, and deal with the criticism of his teenage son. He is away from home when his last two children are born. Still, even after serving in WWI, he burns to dream his dream and “to seek the unknown” and find proof of a civilization that existed centuries earlier.
The story, based on a book by David Grann, which drew upon true events, compels your attention through a relatively long film. It switches rapidly back and forth between Great Britain, the Amazon, and the war theater—necessary, but sometimes abrupt because of the ground it has to cover. In the process, the viewer is engaged with the dream of discovery of the unknown, the personal make-up of Fawcett, his attachment to his family, his wife’s heroism and faith in him, the politics involved in scientific expeditions, the mysteriousness of native cultures, and, ultimately, the outcome.
Director James Gray has taken David Grann’s celebrated book about The Lost City of Z, and produced an intelligent, fascinating account of Percy Fawcett’s adventures. His work is brilliantly enhanced by the cinematography of Darius Khondji, a master of light and shadow, photographic effects, and storytelling with the camera. Charlie Hunnam is exactly right for the Percy Fawcett character, and I sing praises for Sienna Miller and her depiction of a woman of strength and purpose who could still be a model for women today. The performances of Tom Holland, Robert Pattinson, and Angus Macfadyen provide lively support.
The Lost City of Z is an opportunity to broaden your horizons, appreciate the scientific endeavors of committed explorers, and indulge yourself in exotic cultural experiences. It says much about commitment and the exhortation to dream.
You may be able to find yourself in The Lost City of Z, and if you do, you’ll be the better for it.
Grade: A By Donna R. Copeland