Lost City of Z - a review
From IMDB.com, Lost City of Z is a true-life drama, centering on British explorer Col. Percival Fawcett, who disappeared while searching for a mysterious city in the Amazon in the 1920s.
Released on March 28th in the UK, it got it's US cinematic release April 14th, some weeks later. We have become accustomed to the US getting film releases ahead of other territories. I had followed the review in the UK press and was looking forward to seeing this enigma of a film. I use the word "enigma" because this film is something of an enigma about an early 20th Century explorer who became something of an enigma.
Colonel Percival Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam) was an officer in the British army and member of the Royal Geographical Society (RGS). Early in his career he achieved success as a surveyor and cartographer. When a dispute over the border between Bolivia and Brazil, Fawcett was sent to survey and map the border as an independent third party. While there Fawcett was convinced he found evidence of an advanced civilisation but was ridiculed by his colleagues in the RGS. When WWI broke out, he served and was injured during an encounter at the Somme. In 1924 he returned to "Amazonia" with his son Jack (Tom Holland) with the help of a grant of £100 from the RGS. Despite several rescue expeditions, nothing was heard of him or his son again.
It's an interesting story and director James Gray does an adequate job of getting the story up on the big screen. It's an expansive screenplay written by David Grann based on his own book. I suspect the book would give the reader greater insight into the mind of Fawcett than the film does. I think this is the main weakness of the film: the story is complex and the film tries to cram in three separate expeditions to the Amazon by Col. Fawcett, his experiences in WWI, his home life and his relation ship with his wife (Sienna Miller) and family. There is almost too much story squeezed into it's 141 minutes. Despite it's long running time, I wanted more. I wanted a deeper dive into Fawcett and his adventures. Full credit for this has to go to Charlie Hunnam . His performance is simply outstanding and he captures the complexity of Fawcett. His presence on screen is captivating, drawing one in and leaving one looking for more.
As a piece of history at the turn of the 20th century, it's interesting. As an insight into English society at the time it is revealing. Sexism, prejudice and misogyny are all on view. Ian McDiarmid's character is a joy to watch however, I'm sorry, when he speaks all I can hear is Emperor Palpatine!
On the plus side, Lost City of Z is not based on a comic book, a graphic novel, nor a sequel or a prequel. It's an original film based on a unique, complex character.