The Lost City of Z movie is a beautiful dramatic biopic of an explorer churned between his family, war and his dream to find an ancient lost city in the Amazon. It might have been a failed expedition in actuality but it never was any less than an intense elusive dream of Col. Percival Fawcett who never for a second doubted his resolve, and more importantly never gave up. He spent his whole life visiting and revisiting Amazon with a dogged persistence to discover what he had accidentally come across – remnants of a lost civilization.
In order to truly understand the obsession of Fawcett with the jungle, you have to first try to get into his boots. You have to understand the import of being an explorer. You have to think like one. Back in the days when there were territories yet to be explored, uncharted regions on the map yet to be mapped, finding a city or archaeological evidence used to be huge. Today it might not seem much since man has scathed every corner of the earth, and there is all this technology around waiting for us to get things done. There’s Google now! But at a time when Fawcett breathed in, there wasn’t much to support him in his manual scavenge.
The biggest truth of visiting a new place is that you are absolutely unsure of what is going to happen, or what perils you might face. That too if you are barging into a place where people do not speak your language and consider your cultural and physical differences as a sign of intrusion, it is hard as hell to find your place. There’s a scene in the The Lost City of Z movie where Fawcett and his crew are trying to explore Amazon, and end up being attacked by a tribe for trespassing. You could only imagine how difficult it is to wade through such live dangers.
To look for what is beautiful is its own reward.
Fawcett was a brave man. His obsession was a result of an unfulfilled desire. Having come so close to finding a city that he had seen proofs of existence about, it started taking its toll on him. He ended up dedicating his whole life in search of the unexplored and disappeared into the unknown with his son. He had a purpose hidden for him in the forest and if you ask me it was a life well-lived, in search of something, because half of the time we are hesitantly rambling on without a fixed purpose, and many times it turns out there is nothing really we are looking for.
About the Plot of The Lost City of Z Movie (Spoilers)
The Lost City of Z movie takes its montage from the real life of Percy Fawcett (played exceptionally well by Charlie Hunnam) as researched and written by David Grann in his book. It is a story about Fawcett’s life of the times he went out for exploration leaving his wife to take care of the children, of his newly found obsession with a supposed city in the forest, his confrontations with the Indians on his way, and then with his family on numerous occasions, his reconciliation with his son and then his final voyage into the unknown.
James Gray directs the movie beautifully capturing every minutia of his life giving apt focus to everything precarious in his sojourn. His best frames linger even during fuming conversations between Percy and his wife Nina (Sienna Miller), as she tries to find herself some time with her husband. The screenplay is absolutely brilliant and his further embellished by the poems Nina writes for her husband. They are all very powerful and insightful.
The sacrifices Nina make just so that her husband Percy could go out and pursue his dream are worth an ovation. It is no simple feat and she should be remembered and honored for her patience and sacrifice the way the world today remembers Percy Fawcett for his city of Z.
Don’t go. He (Jack) will not know you when you return.
There are some powerful and dramatic bits lodged in conversations between Percy and his son Jack (Tom Holland) too. James Gray doesn’t compromise anywhere while narrating this tale keeping everything at the same pace throughout. There is ample drama for any drama lover in The Lost City of Z movie to take the monotony away.
There was a meeting with Royal Geographical Society where Percy tries to convince them of the existence of a lost city. That part is brimming with energy, as it lets us know what RGS is all about. It is apparent that RGS is a body that creates some of the best meetings ever. The RGS is abounding with allegations then and there, support whenever or whoever deems it necessary, and it could come from even a single person and be backed on the grounds of impactful points. It almost makes you feel why can’t every meeting in the world be as dynamic as RGS’s. It will open playgrounds of innovation. Exceptional stuff!
Their civilization may well predate our own. I call it Z. The ultimate piece of human puzzle. It is there and we must find it.
Henry Costin (Robert Pattinson) the explorer, is a pleasant company to have around. Fawcett trusts him beyond limit, and he proves so on so many occasions. But when his final expedition comes along, Costin decides to stay at home. It was a matter of personal choice, and despite there was a madding sense of discovery in Percy Fawcett’s head, Costin wasn’t as enthusiastic given the failures they had met in the past. Then again your mind wanders as to what if Costin had said yes to the final journey. Maybe something different might have happened with his presence, or maybe he would have disappeared too.
Expeditions and Explorations always have someone to slow the zealous down. It holds true even in our life. If you are burning with fervour for something, and you are trying to shoot for the moon, there will always be something or someone trying to slow you down or make sure you don’t get there. James Murray was one such element in his story. He single-handedly destroyed an expedition that could have unfolded into something tangible. He was dead weight they were carrying around for the sake of humanity. It infuriates you to see him trying to bring everyone down.
The anger and the frustration you could read on Percy’s face is undoubtedly obvious. And yet he does the right thing by sending him off to survive on his own, so as to not jeopardize the welfare of his crew. But Murray played convincingly well by Angus Macfadyen, being the serpent he was, stings him in return after reuniting with RGS. With Percy refusing to apologize to him and quitting RGS in the process, you could smell justice being served on a silver platter.
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James Gray’s Version of the Ending
Percy and Jack never returned from their final expedition in the Amazon. Whilst there are hundreds of speculations about the fate they might have encountered, we have our very own James Gray’s version of the ending. While it is a hopeful end to slyly show them being held captive by a tribe that offers them something to drink, after which they are shown being lifted towards some hazy place, it would break your heart to think about the reality. Their end could have been much more painful or maybe they were held captive and never allowed to leave for the intrusion. It only disheartens you to think what could have happened to the father-son duo.
It is as if Fawcett’s life’s a book that doesn’t pan out in a happy ending. But the paragon of hopeful perseverance stays Percy’s wife Nina, who spends the rest of her life waiting, never for once giving up the idea of them being okay. We get to see her trying her level best to make Sir John Scott Keltie (Clive Francis) understand that her husband and son are alright. She even presents him with a compass Fawcett had promised to send if he found the city. It is suggestive that he did.
The final scene shows her reflection disappearing into the woods which is one stunning way of using the figurative to tell the spectators that her thoughts forever stayed with the jungle. And that later she went on an expedition of her own to search for her husband and her son. She spent the rest of her life in the forest with undying hope. That’s one of the most crushing things you will see. Her hopeful words in the end will rend your heart into pieces.
All the Bitterness
One might say it was foolish of him to go and to take his son along with him on his insane expedition. It was beyond stupidity to follow a dead dream that could have been a mere dud or a product of simply overthinking. But you have to understand the vision Percy Fawcett carried throughout his life. It was a taste of fame and the thought of acquiring something elusive and holding it between his hands. It was also a tad about resuscitating his family name.
Even when he is in the midst of a war, and he is defamed to have failed twice in his attempt to find his lost city of Z, all he could think about was being surrounded by trees, surviving in the lap of nature. The vision that he sees of himself, in an image to settle his unrest, is literally calling him out to step out into the Amazon once again. It is as if the mysteries of the unknown beckoned him to pursue the one thing that he enjoyed doing the most.
I am here to attempt great things.
It was dangerous nevertheless, and with their final fate, it becomes almost indispensable to not let go of the bitter thought. But when you wear the shoes of Fawcett and try to relive his verve for exploration, you will realize that sitting and doing nothing about it would have hurt more.
The Final Verdict
Percy Fawecett’s life was a life spent in pursuit of something elusive, which could have been a dud shot, as many would argue, but it was more than that for the man himself. A guy with a dream, a purpose and an expectant gusto to get there.
Isn’t that the way everyone should live?
The Lost City of Z movie is capable of bringing clouds of thoughts over your head. After watching it, you can’t help but speculate about the ending the Fawcetts might have met. It takes your heart towards the family he left at home that sometimes failed to understand the vision of an obsessive man. It is so sad and at the same time so powerful that any sane man could melt.
The Lost City of Z movie makes you conjecture theories to satiate the tale of the lost men. At the same time, it makes you want to reflect his fixation with your very own dream, and whether or not it would be a good idea to spend a life trying or simply sit at home and do nothing about.
BTW Charlie Hunnam is on a roll, always in the news – a wink at King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.
You can check out the trailer of The Lost City of Z movie here: