Film Review: Lost City of Z (2016)

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐ – 3/5.

Author: André Siemens | Runtime: 141 min. | Director: James Gray | Year: 2016.

What a film! This film made me curious from the start. I had never heard of the biography of Percy Fawcett. So with a fresh mind, I headed to the cinema. When the film ended, it had me silent for a moment. The film went more into depth than its genre would make you expect. It kept me engaged and curious for more throughout the film. The film left me believing that there’s still magic out there.

The lost City of Z takes place at the beginning of the 20th century and tells the story of the legendary adventurer Percy Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam). He’s employed to use his cartography skills in a conflict zone that regards rubber, a valuable resource. With his help it can be decided where the border between Bolivia and Brazil lies. During his stay he experiences the beauty of the Amazon as well as its cruelties and the locals that live there. When he discovers particular pottery in the jungle he reports back claiming that he encountered the remains of a possible lost civilization that might have been more advanced than his own. He is met with ridicule, also because of his past. His father left him with a legacy that has brought shame to his last name. Even though his own achievements are commendable, the past haunts him. His fellows are in total disbelief that another civilization (El Dorado) could have existed that was more sophisticated than their own civilization. Especially since they consider the locals in South America as ‘savages’. Percy Fawcett is determined to return to the Amazon. With the support of his wife and son he continues his dangerous journey as the world watches.

The lost City of Z is directed by James Gray (The Immigrant, Two Lovers, We Own the Night) and the screenplay was written by Gray as well. The story is based on the book of the same name written by David Grann about the true life story of one of the world’s most famous adventurer of the 20th century. The film takes us through several stages of Percy Fawcett’s (Charlie Dunnam) life from expedition to expedition and even to a warzone where he is accompanied by Henry Costin (Robert Pattinson). As the film progresses we see his obsession growing over his desire to find the lost city in the Amazon. A nice aspect of the film was that it is immediately visible in which era the film was set. The clothing –which was on point- said it all, but also the feel. No need for dates. And of course as it progressed so did the attires change throughout the film which was really beautiful to see. I do have to say that I wasn’t really convinced with Charlie Hunnam’s accent. I’m a person who is really in to accents and it felt odd to see him try a ‘cockney’ accent, which at some points was really watered down. The film stars Charlie Hunnam (Sons of Anarchy), Robert Pattinson (Cosmopolis), Tom Holland (Captain America: Civil War) and Sienna Miller (Foxcatcher).

The film is graded as an action/adventure, but while analyzing the stunning shots of the Amazon jungles. It becomes noticeable that there is an underlying hidden theme that in my opinion seems just as important. Nature is displayed in a very mesmerizing way within those shots. It made us experience what the main character felt, enchanted by nature. Being a fan of nature, it worked for me. Somewhere it thematically came off as part of the film’s dualist notion of civilization and nature, western civilization in disbelief of ‘savages’ in nature that could have had a more advanced civilization and Fawcett being the one the mediator between those two. Percy is presented as the kind of person who views the attitude of the society that he grew up in and struggled with, as narrow minded. He himself sees the sophistication of these so-called ‘savages’. They utilize their environment to their advantage by not taking more than they need. Slowly but surely he sees the shortcomings of his own society. It was a nice surprise that the main character opened his mind to another culture and in doing so may have been ahead for his time. As I came to understand, this was completely the point of the director and I felt that it gave thought provoking meaning to this film. This film succeeded to make me feel annoyed with the narrow mindedness of the people and I really connected with Percy Fawcett’s struggle as he made brave attempts to change their minds.

I would definitely recommend this film, mostly because of the underlying themes that contain an interesting message. So, if you’re interested in a thought provoking film with some action, definitely a lot of adventure, nature, jungles and an enchanting mystery of a lost Amazonian civilization. You should really go and see this film.

In Dutch theatres as from the 27th of April 2017.

Genre: Action, adventure, biography | Language: English | Dutch Distributor: The Searchers

All rights of this film and the pictures displayed are owned and reserved to the righful owners.

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