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article imageReview: ‘The Lost City of Z’ pits ignorance against elusive evidence Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Apr 24, 2017 in Entertainment
‘The Lost City of Z’ is a slow slog through the jungles of Bolivia to prove ancient civilizations not only existed, but were intelligent and innovative.
To this day, archeologists continue to discover evidence of previously unknown civilizations, and biologists regularly find new animal and plant species in formerly unexplored lands. But just more than a century ago, the most cultured societies were convinced those found living beyond the borders of establishment could not have developed any level of sophistication worthy of acknowledgement or examination. Referring to these people as “savages,” their value to humanity is dismissed and they are relegated to servants and slaves. In The Lost City of Z (pronounced “zed”), one man tries to convince the world of the existence and value of the yet undocumented Mayans.
Percy Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam) is a career soldier denied advancement due to his father’s disgrace. Regardless of his flawless record and efforts, he is a major without decoration or respect. However, he is presented the opportunity to earn the honour of his superiors as well as redeem his family name from an unfamiliar source – The Regional Geographic Society. They’ve been commissioned by authorities in Brazil and Bolivia to determine the location of the border between the two countries. During this expedition, Percy learns of a lost city of an ancient, sophisticated civilization and he makes it his life’s mission to find it.
This is a slow-paced film that feels a bit too long in spite of fast-forwarding through much of the 30-year period it portrays. Percy was once a map surveyor, thus combined with his military experience the society thinks he’s an ideal candidate for this moderately dangerous assignment. In spite of some hostile encounters with the locals, Percy returns without incident. Most interestingly, the greatest devastations he experiences over this time are at the hands of his fellow countrymen and in combat during WWI. Choosing to respect the natives and their culture, and work with them rather than try to extinguish them leads to revelations others would have foregone. When Percy learns others are following his path with mass armies in tow, he wonders if they’ll destroy what they set out to find.
Told in a chapter format, each one revolves around one of Percy’s expeditions and generally encompasses an unknown number of years. Beginning with Percy’s year and location, he often travels for an indeterminate number of months and/or years to reach his destination and return. However, only the “main events” are depicted, such as encounters with local tribes, finding clues regarding the lost city and defending the quest at home. Each time Percy returns from one of his journeys, his children are basically unrecognizable while his wife (Sienna Miller) remains supportive to a fault.
Hunnam is at home in the adventurer role, trudging through the jungle and doggedly holding onto the belief that he can find Z. Robert Pattinson is virtually unrecognizable under the scruff of his character, Henry Costin, who accompanies Percy on his travels and is his right-hand man. Tom Holland portrays the adult version of Percy’s eldest son, Jack, who gains an understanding of his father’s obsession that caused him to miss the majority of Jack’s childhood. As every story needs a villain, Angus Macfadyen plays the role to a tee though the extent of his character’s betrayal is astonishing.
Although the film is based on the life of the real-life, British explorer of the same name, it would appear writer/director James Gray took some liberties with his story.
Director: James Gray
Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Robert Pattinson and Sienna Miller
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