The Lost City Of Z

Film, Action and adventure
The Lost City Of Z

A British explorer sets out into the trackless Amazon in this gripping, spectacular adventure story

The British explorer Percy Fawcett – driven crazy by his obsession to find a lost Amazonian city – vanished in the jungle in 1925. His story has everything you could possibly want in an adventure tale: treacherous colleagues, cannibals with bubbling pots, spears flying out of nowhere, shrunken heads, piranhas, even an opera troupe singing Mozart in the wild. But in the hands of ‘The Immigrant’ director James Gray (adapting David Grann’s thrilling 2009 book), it has something that most modern filmmakers would skim over in favour of action: a soulful sense of unresolved wanderlust, and an exquisitely developed tension between family responsibilities and the call of greatness over the horizon.

Shot by mighty cinematographer Darius Khondji (‘Seven’), ‘The Lost City of Z’ feels like it comes out of that epic 1970s moment when filmmakers like Francis Ford Coppola and Werner Herzog dived into the mud on their own personal tests of will. Gray works at a relaxed pace; this isn’t ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’. Instead, he places the forward momentum wholly on leading actor Charlie Hunnam (producer Brad Pitt originally intended to star himself).

His occasional coarseness is a perfect match for Fawcett’s early frustrations as a colonel officer from a modest background – or, as one snob puts it, has been ‘rather unfortunate in his choice of ancestors’. A Bolivian mapmaking job presents an opportunity for advancement and, with his bushy bearded aide Henry (Robert Pattinson), Fawcett leaves behind his encouraging wife, Nina (Sienna Miller), and young son.

The first expedition is thrilling, with its murmurs of discovery. But the film locks us in during Fawcett’s second quest, when his own natural humility among the tribespeople – a progressive attitude for the day – is tested by old duffers at the Royal Geographical Society, as well as a fatuous fellow traveller, the Antarctic explorer James Murray (Angus Macfayden, supplying humour exactly when it’s needed). At home, independent Nina dreams of adventure, and is disappointed by her husband’s sexist refusal to let her accompany him.

‘The Lost City of Z’ is so ambitious during its middle section, complete with tense showdowns in musty London drawing rooms and along grungy South American riverbanks, that you’ll almost explode with joy to realise that Gray has one more turn up his sleeve (too good to ruin here). World War I and deployment on the French front lines waylays Fawcett for a decade, but there he is, crying in his hospital bed at the glories he has yet to explore.

The grandeur of this movie is off the charts. For a certain kind of old-school movie fan, someone who believes in shapely, classical proportions and an epic yarn told over time, it will be the revelation of the year.

By: Joshua Rothkopf

Posted:

Release details

Rated: 15
Release date: Friday March 24 2017
Duration: 141 mins

Cast and crew

Director: James Gray
Screenwriter: James Gray
Cast: Charlie Hunnam
Sienna Miller
Robert Pattinson
Angus MacFadyen

Average User Rating

4 / 5

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Tastemaker

Based on a real story if the life of the English explorer Percy Fawcett and his quest to prove the existence if an ancient megacity in the Peruvian Jungle.

The pace of this film is fairly slow yet the timespan it covers it quite lengthy and interspersed with travelling which makes the whole thing disjointed and so it really doesn't flow at all well. The story, however, is fascinating albeit difficult to make work as a film but it's still well worth a watch. Technicalities aside, the film is beautifully shot and both Charlie Hunnam and Robert Patterson are well cast. The ending is particularly poignant and memorable, and will likely provoke you to read up on the facts yourself.The fact that recent aerial scans have all but proved that Fawcett was right about the existence of an enormous lost city in the Amazonian jungle only add to the story's intrigue.
tastemaker

A slow, thoughtful and evocative affair unlike much of current-day cinema. The film lingers in the mind for a long time after watching. Although it has its flaws it's still incredibly potent - whether it's power translates from big to small screen is uncertain. What is certain is how fresh what is intrinsically an old-fashioned film feels, how it seems to breathe and move off the screen as broods over the nature of dreams. Wonderful and almost-great,which surely makes it all the more memorable. 


Beautiful cinematography and soundtrack capture the mystery of the Amazon Rainforest on a quest for a lost city - but like the real-life adventurer whose life this film chronicles, it doesn't quite achieve greatness. Still (almost) full marks for trying. Hunnam gives a fine performance for a character who is undoubtedly problematic in these post-colonial times, with an admirable supporting cast. The dreamlike final sequences are very powerfully done. Definitely a must see at the cinema. 

tastemaker

The second Act of the film, set in the trenches of WW1, feels really out of place. The rest of 'Lost City of Z', however, is gorgeous: the final sequence is going to haunt me for some time to come.

I was aware of the book the film was based on before seeing it, so I was curious as to how 'Lost City of Z' would resolve the ending. As it turns out, the answer to that question is 'with great subtlety,' and the dreamlike quality of the rainforest tribe totally carried me away.


Well worth a watch, though not if you're after a running-around-and-things-exploding kind of affair.


Good old fashioned movie with good performances