The true story of English explorer Percy Fawcett, who became
obsessed with finding a lost city in the Amazon in the 1920's.
The Lost City of Z (2017)
Written and Directed by James Gray
Starring Charlie Hunnam, Robert Pattinson, Sienna Miller,
Tom Holland, Edward Ashley, Angus Macfadyen, Ian McDiarmid
Based on the book by David Grann
The fate of Percy Fawcett is a mystery that we may never solve, but when films like this one are made, it's impossible not to speculate. Fawcett was an incredibly accomplished explorer who obsessed over a supposed lost city in the Amazon that he called "Z." He famously disappeared in 1925 while searching for it with his son. Some people say he was killed and eaten by the local tribes, others say he lived a long and happy life among them. We will likely never know what really happened to him, but The Lost City of Z shines a light on an important historical figure who believed that there was civilization before the white man, a notion that quickly made him a pariah among his colleagues.
The Lost City of Z borrows heavily from Werner Herzog's Aguirre, the Wrath of God, another film about a doomed expedition to Amazonia that ends in tragedy. It's slow-going at first but picks up steam around the halfway point, with Charlie Hunnam turning in a flawless performance from beginning to end. Once Fawcett begins his second attempt at finding Z, the film finally gets interesting and begins to focus on the explorer's unhinged obsession. There are several tense moments throughout, particularly the scenes with the natives. Maybe it's because I watched Eli Roth's The Green Inferno, but I expected the worse.
I had already begun to make up my mind about The Lost City of Z when the film turned my opinion on its head and evolved into a fascinating character study. Percy Fawcett was a determined man who believed he had a destiny. Whether or not he fulfilled that destiny depends on which story you believe. Regardless, the film that tells his story is intense, thought-provoking, and satisfying, even if it is a little slow in the beginning.