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Film Review: 'The Lost City of Z' Finds Sense of Humanity

by Todd A. Smith


Charlie Hunnam stars as Percy Fawcett in director James Gray’s “The Lost City of the Z” (Photo Credit: Aidan Monaghan/Amazon Studios & Bleeker Street).


Revising History 


In a monarchy, family names mean everything.

One can be talented.

One can be irreplaceable.

But if one has a bad surname, that person is unimportant in the big picture.

Unfortunately in “The Lost City of Z,” Percy Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam) suffers from all of the aforementioned qualities.

Therefore, when Percy is given the unenviable task of traveling to South America as a surveyor to settle a border dispute, he jumps at the dangerous mission.

Percy’s task in “The Lost City of Z” is important because if the maps his surveying work with Henry Costin (Robert Pattinson) produce are accurate it could possibly thwart a future war with the French over the highly profitable rubber plantations in Bolivia.

Furthermore, the task in “The Lost City of Z” is daunting because the South American jungles are filled with Native Americans, or savages as the British bigots call them, who will fight to the death over their land.

But what Percy and Costin find in Amazonia is more than just the border between Bolivia and Brazil.

The two European explorers find a lost city and lost civilization that predates biblical times, and proves much to the dismay of the British monarchy that these so-called “savages” are more advanced and sophisticated than anyone could imagine.

What Percy and Costin find could potentially make people rethink the notions of racial and cultural superiority and inferiority.

However, getting Percy’s superiors to believe his findings could prove harder than actually surviving in the jungles of Amazonia.

Furthermore, exploring Amazonia means separating from his family for years at a time and leaving his growing brood to be raised alone by his wife, Nina (Sienna Miller).

“The Lost City of Z” is rather long and gets off to a slow start but it benefits from an enlightening subject matter and brilliant acting by Hunnam, Pattinson and Miller.

However, the slow start is necessary to understand the psyche of Percy Fawcett.

The fact that Percy is a loving father and wants to leave a better legacy for his children than his father left for him is what motivates him to put his life in danger to make a better name for himself and his family.

Furthermore, his humanity and open-mindedness is what motivates him to learn more about Native Americans and is what separates him from his ignorant colleagues back in Europe.

Unfortunately, the film begins in 1905 and ends in the 1930s and it does not seem that Percy and Nina age appropriately.

The dedicated couple seems too young for too long in “The Lost City of Z” to look believable.

Nevertheless, the film written and directed by James Gray is an epic adventure based on humanity, empathy, understanding and perseverance.

A brilliant performance by Hunnam does not hurt the film either, which can be described equally as an action/adventure film and a much-needed history lesson.

While the film shows what lengths a man will go to restore his family’s name and reputation, it also shows what a man will go through to restore the name and reputation of an entire group of misrepresented people.






This article was published on Friday 14 April, 2017.
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