'The Lost City of Z' digs up the flawed ideologies of the past

Charlie Hunnam (far right) stars as Percy Fawcett in director James Gray’s THE LOST CITY OF Z, an Amazon Studios and Bleecker Street release.

The Lost City of Z
4 out of 5 Stars
James Gray
Writers: James Gray (screenplay), David Grann (book)
Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Robert Pattinson, Sienna Miller
Genre: Action, Adventure, Biography
Rated: PG-13 for violence, disturbing images, brief strong language and some nudity

Synopsis: The story of Percy Fawcett, a British explorer, who set out to map the Amazon and discovers evidence of an ancient civilization.

Review: We have, at least for the most part, tamed the wilds of our world. One hundred years ago there were areas that had never been visited by foreigners. Now, many of those locations are tourist attractions.

Percy Fawcett was a perfectly capable soldier, but his father’s legacy was viewed with distain. So the sins of the father are the sins of the son. This essentially forced Fawcett to take the dangerous assignment of tyorying to map the Amazon in hopes of settling a border dispute without bloodshed.

On the surface “The Lost City of Z” is a fairly traditional adventure story that finds foreigners exploring the wild frontier. Death is a constant companion as illness, exotic animals and indigenous tribes combine to create an incredibly dangerous environment.

What sets the film apart is its fascinating study of how nationalism and racism have held back scientific discovery. Fawcett was unburdened by the idea that the “primitives” were biologically incapable of building anything more complex than a hut. It is this sort of ideology, the inability to celebrate the accomplishments of mankind and not just Anglo-Saxons, that helped lead to the fall of the British Empire.

Directed by James Gray, "The Lost City of Z" is beautifully shot and features strong performances from Charlie Hunnam, Robert Pattinson, Sienna Miller, Angus Macfadyen and Tom Holland. It runs a bit long, but the journey is worth it.

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