May 13, 2017 -- Based on the true story of explorer and soldier Percival Harrison Fawcett (1867 to circa 1925) this movie is about a series of epic adventures by a man inspired to explore during an age of exploration.
Fawcett, a soldier in the British Army, at first wants to make a name for himself, and to restore his family's honor, which was tarnished by his alcoholic father. In the first decade of the 20th Century, he agrees to undertake a very risky expedition into the Amazon jungle to map the disputed border between Bolivia and Brazil on behalf of the Royal Geographical Society.
The expedition is beset by attacks from local tribes, wildlife and disease. Fawcett proves adept at getting along with the locals, using songs, courtesy, gifts and diplomacy. Courageous and determined, he succeeds, and returns to London in triumph, but his discovery of pottery and writing in the jungle is ridiculed by skeptics. Fawcett believes that the native peoples of South America once had great civilizations and cities, but scientists of the day believe that the native peoples were inferior and not capable of such achievements.
Fawcett is determined to prove his theory, and with the aid of the wealthy biologist James Murray (played by Angus Macfadyen of “Titus”) an expedition is mounted to find the Lost City of Z that Fawcett believes is not far from an area he visited before. Murray proves incapable of completing the journey and is sent on to an outpost with supplies, the last remaining horse and a native guide. The expedition fails. When Fawcett returns to London, his version of the expedition is challenged by Murray, who claims he was abandoned.
World War I intervenes and Fawcett volunteers to fight in the war, to the dismay of his wife (played by Sienna Miller of “Foxcatcher”) and his children. Badly injured in the war, Fawcett survives, but still has dreams of the jungle. Accompanied by his oldest son (played by Tom Holland of “Captain America: Civil War”) the two set out to find the Lost City of Z again, even though by then (1925) the fabulous city of Machu Picchu had already been discovered in Peru (thanks to American historian Hiram Bingham) lending support to Fawcett's theories.
This is an amazing adventure story, set in the age of discovery, during the same time Scott and Amundsen were racing to the south pole, but Fawcett's life (as described in the 2009 book of the same name by David Grann upon which this film is based) is even more amazing than is seen in this film. Fawcett's stories about the Amazon also inspired the novel, “The Lost World” (1912) by Arthur Conan Doyle (later made into movies).
Both the story of Fawcett's adventures and his family life are effectively told by writer-director James Gray (“The Immigrant”) and Charlie Hunnam (“Pacific Rim”) gives a fine performance as the main character, Percy Fawcett, as he ages and grows wiser during the course of the film. Robert Pattinson (the “Twilight” movies) disappears into his role as fellow explorer, and Fawcett's friend, Henry Costin.
This is the kind of movie that makes you want to research the people and events depicted and find out more about them, and I did. This film rates a B.
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