The Lost City of Z Review
Director: James Gray
Score: Christopher Spelman
First thing that springs to my mind after watching the trailer, is El Dorado, the mythical Lost City of Gold. But we quickly learn this is a serious story about the man who went off in search for not necessarily this city of gold, but for an undiscovered civilisation, the City of Z, Pronounced zed and not zee.
When I'm asked to name famous British explorers I always tend to think of Livingston, Drake, Captain Cook and sir Walter Raleigh. In fact, if you Google top ten British explorers, Percy Fawcett doesn't make the list, though, not trying to take away his importance. He was a famous explorer, and this film displays a lot more than him being the person who traversed South America and found the source of the Rio Verde. It explores his motives, his ambition for recognition among the senior aristocracy, his strengths and his sacrifices.
The film is actually based on David Grann's biographic novel The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in The Amazon. Grann being an established American journalist who wrote for The New Yorker magazine and travelled to the Amazonian jungle himself to research his work. This book became one of the bestselling novels of 2009 earning Brad Pitt's production company, Plan B's attention and the eventual film.
It's a long film with a 141minute runtime, but it's totally necessary with having so much ground to cover, spanning more than twenty years of Percy Fawcett's life. Introducing the man, his ideals and ambitious, and ultimately his constant obsession with the jungle. It's shocking to think at this took place around a hundred years ago, only a hundred years ago.
Sorry Charlie, I always mix Mr. Hunnam with Garrett Hedlund; I can't be the only one? But Hunnam's role of playing the Amazonian explorer, Major Fawcett is certainly his stand out performance, being utterly engaging. It's really Hunnam coming into his own, making his mark on the map and people need to take notice. His diction and command of the English language is brilliant and a lot is owed to the tight Victorian script. It manages to feel poetic but without it becoming over dramatic or unrealistic. It's powerful and captivating.
The supporting cast is on par also, Especially Pattison as his trusted friend and fellow explorer, and his wife, played superbly by Miller who really embellishes her character right till with very end. It's these two who provide anchors for Fawcett's story, learning about their relationships, his humility and their understanding to his cause. There's some great subtle reflections in the characters about family commitment, honour and courage.
Gray captures the essence of the jungle extraordinarily well, though a lush and fertile part of the world, it really is a incredible challenge to film in the jungle, with its beauty actually being like an unforgiving Venus fly trap. It has to be appreciated how well the film is shot, the whole production must have been incredibly demanding, especially capturing a small of impressive Battle of the Somme during the first Great War. Some parts reminded me of The Mission, 1492: The Conquest of Paradise and Legends of The Fall.
It's a great film, superbly crafted and put together with strong performances that certainly puts Fawcett back on the map. Can appreciate it won't be everyone's cup of tea and I sadly believe this will get undiscovered.
Running Time: 7
The Cast: 8
Job Description: 7
The Extra Bonus Point: 0