Savage Nobles

The Lost City of Z

Director: James Gray

Cast: Charlie Hunnam, Robert Pattinson, Tom Holland, Sienna Miller, Franco Nero, Angus McFadyen, Edward Ashley

The Immigrant director James Gray’s handsome exploratory film The Lost City of Z had its South African premiere at the 38th Durban International Film Festival http://www.durbanfilmfest.co.za/. Starring Charlie Hunnam in the role of British explorer Percy Fawcett who establishes his inherent masculinity in the opening shot of the film as Fawcett hunts deer on an estate in Ireland during the Edwardian era.

Hunnam embodies the role of the hunky and courageous explorer Percy Fawcett who according to legend was the inspiration behind Indiana Jones and also whose life was briefly drawn upon in the Charles Sturridge film A Handful of Dust starring James Wilby and Kristin Scott Thomas.

Although The Lost City of Z is set during an earlier period pre World War 1 and in the early 1920’s it documents the extraordinarily bizarre story of Fawcett who with the backing of the Royal Geographic Society travels to the unexplored border of Bolivia and Brazil deep in the Amazon jungle and becomes convinced that there is indeed evidence of a much earlier advanced population that lived there in a illusive city of Z, an exotic place hidden in the jungle filled with gold far removed from the civilized establishment of Europe.

After several tormented expeditions to the heart of the Amazon with his aide-de-camp Henry Costin played by Robert Pattinson, his geographical explorations are halted when world war one breaks out and Percy is forced to fight, leaving his frustrated wife Nina played by Sienna Miller (Foxcatcher, American Sniper) to look after his three children.

Nina sees the value of her husband’s expeditions but wishes that as a woman she has more influence to assist him, such as accompanying him to the tropics, a desire which Sienna Miller conveys beautifully in her screen portrayal.

Angus Macfayden (We Bought a Zoo,) plays the disruptive financier and explorer James Murray who Fawcett and Costin abandon on a second expedition to the Amazon just before WW1 breaks out. Murray attempts to discredit’s Fawcett’s reputation as an explorer.

Despite internal society politics and world war, The Lost City of Z is a fascinating portrayal of one man’s quest to discover The Other, the truly exotic even if it means possibly endangering his own life and that of his son Jack played by Tom Holland (Spiderman Homecoming). Fawcett in his quest for discovery pays the ultimate price of a nobleman obsessed with a savage jungle.

Audiences should watch out for a cameo by veteran Italian actor Franco Nero (Django, Django Unchained) as the decadent Baron De Gondoriz who has established a debauched Portuguese outpost deep in the Amazon complete with naked tribes and operatic performances.

With a screenplay by James Gray and David Grann based upon the book The Lost City of Z, the film version is fascinating if slightly long in the middle, yet definitely worth watching if audiences enjoyed such ethnographic films as At Play in the Fields of the Lord and of course A Handful of Dust.

The Lost City of Z gets a film rating of 7.5 out of 10.

Source: Percy Fawcett – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Percy_Fawcett

 

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