Throughout history there have been men and women so passionate about their goals, their desires and their dreams that everything else in their lives is pushed aside. British explorer Percy Fawcett was such a man. He believed there existed a civilization in South America undiscovered in his lifetime. His pursuit of finding such a place would ultimately lead to his disappearance, but not his place in human annals. His story is told in a thrilling film called "The Lost City of Z".
Fawcett is ably portrayed by Charlie Hunnam, who gives a strong performance as the indefatigable explorer who convinces his beautiful wife, Nina (Sienna Miller) that he must return to the Amazon rainforest to continue his quest, this despite their young son, and another child due. Accompanying Fawcett a second time is his aide-de-camp Henry Costin, played by a bearded, bespectacled and virtually unrecognizable Robert Pattinson. He, too, turns in a controlled but effective performance.
Despite its ample running time over two hours, writer/director James Gray's interpretation of the best-selling non-fiction book by David Grann is a stunning achievement in filmmaking. Gray chose to shoot his movie in 35mm, which meant the exposed film had to be flown thousands of miles for processing and editing. But as Gray asserts, the authenticity of the movie's look made it all worthwhile, and I agree.
The scenes depicting flying arrows from natives who felt threatened on Fawcett's initial venture into the Bolivian jungle are spectacularly disturbing. Early on, going upriver on their raft, Fawcett holds up a bible to protect his face, and it manages to stop one of the weapons just short of his cheek. It is just one jaw-dropping moment out of many.
Equally absorbing is the confrontation between Fawcett and wealthy adventurer James Murray (Angus Macfadyen) who opts to join the second expedition, but comes close to sabotaging the mission when he becomes ill. Their back-and-forth at the Royal Geographical Society (RGS) in London, after the end of the second trip, is simply top quality writing and acting.
Ridiculed at home by fellow scientists at the RGS --- their long-held belief is that any natives living in the Amazon jungles are merely savages, incapable of leading civilized lives --- Fawcett's retort is that "we are all made of the same clay". When he returns for a third journey to the jungle, this time with his now-grown son Jack (Tom Holland), it proves to be his last because he was never seen again.
Although we know this from the marketing campaign of "The Lost City of Z", it is still a shock when we experience it on the big screen. And in case you're still not convinced to see this movie, know that Brad Pitt is an executive producer.
Opinion: See It Now!