2017-08-13 00:00

City Pres review: The Lost City of Z

Johannesburg - Jirre but people can be selfish! That’s pretty much the closing thought I had after watching new historical adventure The Lost City of Z.

It tells the true story of Percy Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam), a late 1800s British explorer who became obsessed with finding the remains of mythical city of gold El Dorado in the jungles of Brazil. He dubs the city “Z”.

While mapping the border of Brazil and Bolivia for the Royal Geographical Society, Fawcett became obsessed with the region. With his wife and two children left at home (sometimes for up to a year at a time), he went to South America seven times, convinced that a complex civilisation had existed in the Amazon Basin and that he could uncover the ruins.

At that time the British didn’t believe anyone who wasn’t white could be civilised, and the very notion that advanced people lived in the Amazon was laughable to them. Fawcett was mocked for his ideas and, in the movie, he’s portrayed as wanting to show the British that South America’s people were cultured and advanced. Though others might disagree, I don’t buy these noble aspirations. Fawcett was very obviously there to gain glory for himself, taking long adventures away from the burden of his wife and kids.

The movie succeeds because it shows these complexities. Instead of painting a dapper Indiana Jonesian picture of a valiant white man making friends with the natives and conquering the jungle, it shows Fawcett as self-obsessed.

On his final expedition, he takes along his estranged son Jack, and what happens to them there may leave some viewers unsatisfied. The film is immaculately crafted, but the blunt ending might be why it only scored a 60% “liked it” rating among audiences on film aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. If you want an absorbing, stately and somewhat existentialist look at the mind-set of an explorer, though, this will hit the mark. Hunnam’s depiction is masterly, too.

Watch the trailer here:

(Photo: Supplied)

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