The modern world has shrunk to a claustrophobic size – we can carry most of it around in our pockets. Countries have continued to magnetise, shackling themselves to one another with political, social, and economic chains. The internet has ensured our noses are perpetually in each other’s business, giving our digital personalities helpful boosts just over each of our neighbourhood fences.
What is left to discover? There are no brave new worlds anymore, at least not physically speaking. The love of proper quests has been abandoned, replaced with a comfortable contentment to grab the places we already know and shake them, viciously, by the ankles, just until every last one of their secrets are exposed to the sun.
Maybe that’s why James Gray takes us back to a more swashbuckling time, a time of expedition and adventure when anything was possible and everything was still out there, waiting. Charlie Hunnam plays real-life British explorer Percy Fawcett; a uniform without any medals, a name that has lost its gleam. Redemption is buried on foreign shores – infuriatingly close, or close enough to doom Fawcett into repeating the same thing over and over while desperately expecting different results.
The Lost City of Z champions the chase but is refreshingly unconcerned with transforming its hero into a martyr: the toll of Fawcett’s fixation is always present, if somewhat underdeveloped. Gray has delivered a throwback tale with an updated perspective. He does not shy away from lingering in the festering squalor of its series of adventures, as the jungle continues to whisper its cloying promises.
This version of Fawcett provides a fascinating study: an otherwise truly contemporary and idealistic man consumed with archaic sentiments of legacy, redemption, and discovery – up to and including being personally destroyed. After all, every innovation has its price.
CAST: Charlie Hunnam, Sienna Miller, Tom Holland
DIRECTOR: James Gray
WRITERS: James Gray (screenplay), David Grann (book)
SYNOPSIS: A true-life drama, centering on British explorer Col. Percival Fawcett, who disappeared while searching for a mysterious city in the Amazon in the 1920s.