The Lost City of Z tells the incredible true story of British explorer Percy Fawcett, who journeys into the Amazon at the dawn of the 20th century and discovers evidence of a previously unknown, advanced civilization that may have once inhabited the region. Despite being ridiculed by the scientific establishment who regard indigenous populations as "savages," the determined Fawcett - supported by his devoted wife, son and aide de camp returns time and again to his beloved jungle in an attempt to prove his case, culminating in his mysterious disappearance in 1925.
According to James Gray, the story is less about adventure as it is about the characters. Percy Fawcett's father who had high social standing was basically a gambling addict who lost not one, but two family fortunes. Percy spends the better part of his adult life trying to answer for his father's misdeeds. See more »
Percy Fawcett is in the artillery, but his red uniform is actually meant for infantry soldiers. This was intentional, as the director liked the way the colors worked and allowed him to plausibly put Fawcett in the trenches in World War I later on. See more »
It's a really good example of how a terrible script can completely destroy a movie. There are too many things which make no sense to list, but the key issues are:
For a film that seems so keen to virtue-signal about white ignorance and racism, it does nothing to explain to us Fawcett's theories about the people of Z. Who were they? How did their civilisation operate? Why did they disappear? Surely these explorers would have built up far more of a picture from the surrounding tribes, artefacts, and previous finds. There is a tiny smattering of these things, but in 2h21ms nowhere near enough to build up a mythology. Therefore it's difficult to see why this obsesses Fawcett. You literally get more detail from the quests in the Indiana Jones movies.
Instead it focuses relentlessly on the most tedious and dangerous aspects of the trips, their suffering, or switches back to London with almost every old man of course a stiff- upper-lip racist and sexist cliché. Imagine a more insidious General Melchett from Blackadder Goes Forth and you won't be far off.
There is an extremely cringey attempt to insert a modern feminist perspective. At one stage, Nina wants to go on the expedition. Her reasoning? She found an important document relating to it. This apparently makes her equal to Fawcett's many years of soldiering and survival skills. It's clumsy and anachronistic. The trip could very well kill them both and so would leave their children orphaned. Surely a more logical argument would be whether he has to go at all. He is, after all, a father, and has responsibilities at home.
The First World War section adds absolutely nothing and captures none of the horror of the battlefield. It's all just tally-ho chaps, almost Hallmark channel-like. Just awful.
Sienna Miller, Robert Pattinson and especially Charlie Hunnam wring what they can from such a sparsely-written script and should be commended for that, which is why this isn't a 1.
Don't be fooled by the title - it's not about a lost city or even a lost man. It's a lazy and pretentious destruction of what could have been a thrilling find.
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