There was a time where explorers were mighty men. Just thinking about the word “explorers” you can imagine men wearing breeches with magnificent moustaches and glorious khakis. Discoveries and exploring still exist but are perhaps less celebrated than they were in a by-gone era where we knew little about the whole world.
The Lost City of Z looks back at that era by noting the journey of one open-minded explorer.
The Lost City of Z revolves around legendary explorer Percy Fawcett. Determined to bring honour to his family’s name, long after his alcoholic father had brought shame to it, he accepts a job from the Royal National Geographic society to map South America and all its secrets. With help from fellow explorer Henry Costin and the suport of his loving wife Nina, Percy undertakes gruelling hikes through the Continent to find out more about the natives and the lives they live. However, whilst there, he comes across mysterious artefacts that could allude to a secret city where its inhabitants have learned more far beyond Western knowledge…A city called Z.
James Gray’s alluring film is an intoxicating adventure and, honestly, one of the most beautifully shot films you will ever see. As though you were peering through the misty edges of a classic photo album, the pastel colours and vintage style that glowingly seeps through each frame are an exquisite painting dancing upon the screen. I cannot stress this enough, the film is so immersed in this sublime nature and the gorgeous cinematography, thanks to Darius Khondji, imbues The Lost City of Z with this almighty poetry that seeps with artistic passion and craft.
The story of The Lost City of Z is perhaps one that would pull people in, believing this to be an action-filled romp through the Jungles of the Amazon. Granted, there are death-defying moments but this assumption really does a disservice to the film which is a rather abstract yet utterly effective glance at a man’s life, enchanted by the greenery of the Amazon. Though slow in its movements, they are graceful and yearning.
A lot of this is down to the quiet and unassuming performance by Charlie Hunnam. As Fawcett, you can sense his determined abandon whilst he tries to find this fantastical and possible real city. In Hunnam, the charm, the love, the somewhat maddness are all combined as beads of wanting heated sweat pour down him. Hunnam is captivating here and truly superb. Helped by Robert Pattinson as the admirable Costin, upcoming talent Tom Holland, and the stunningly emotive Sienna Miller as Nina, Hunnam’s leading role here is incredible.
Think a new contemporary version of Aguirre, Wrath of God as madness, insanity, and hope lay waste to men upon rivers, hounded by greed and pursued by their need to discover something great. However, opposed to Herzog seminal piece, The Lost City of Z’s main drive is the earnest curiosity transformed into beguiling obsession that could very well kill him in his hunt.
Gray’s work here is a cinematic ode to Fawcett and his accomplishments without ever forgiving him for his family abandonment and his isolating drive. Whilst paced at a crawl, it is still an enrapturing and absorbing drama. With riveting performances and a superb score by Christopher Spelman, this is a simply striking film.
The Lost City of Z is out 24th March