"The Lost City of Z", directed by James Gray, and starring Charlie Hunnam, Robert Pattinson, Tom Holland and Sienna Miller, was the closing night film for the 54th New York Film Festival. It describes real events, about British explorer Percy Fawcett who made several attempts to find an ancient lost city in the Amazon and finally disappeared in 1925 along with his son in the search for the city. It stars Charlie Hunnam as Fawcett along with Robert Pattinson as his fellow explorer Henry Costin and Sienna Miller as his wife Nina Fawcett. The screening of the film at NYFF, was followed by a panel talk with the director James Gray, along with cast members Tom Holland, Robert Pattinson, Sienna Miller, and Angus Macfadyen.
They shared their experiences of shooting this film in Colombia, in the jungles and rivers amongst black caymans (not crocodiles!). James is not just a wonderful filmmaker but a hilarious guy, and had the entire panel and audience in splits. Tom Holland (who broke his chair, on stage!), shared how he broke his nose, on set. Robert Pattinson talked about daring the flood and tough environment. Although Angus seems to love the place, and James's pasta. Sienna was lucky to be shooting in Ireland, but talked about the complexity of her character and joy of working with James and Charlie. Here's the full video:
James Gray’s emotionally and visually resplendent epic tells the story of Lieutenant Colonel Percy Fawcett (a remarkable Charlie Hunnam), the British military-man-turned-explorer whose search for a lost city deep in the Amazon grows into an increasingly feverish, decades-long magnificent obsession that takes a toll on his reputation, his home life with his wife (Sienna Miller) and children, and his very existence. Gray and cinematographer Darius Khondji cast quite a spell, exquisitely pitched between rapture and dizzying terror. Also starring Robert Pattinson and Tom Holland, The Lost City of Z represents a form of epic storytelling that has all but vanished from the landscape of modern cinema, and a rare level of artistry.
The film is not just an adventure film, but also deals with several serious subjects like destruction of indigenous race and their land, racism, feminism and prejudices in general, along with war, family, love and pursuit to happiness. The European and American race to conquer south America and Amazonia; assuming indigenous people to be savages, is clearly portrayed in the film. The scene portraying Percy's desire to explore, discover and treat all humans as equals, are quite powerful. Although it does remind you of "white savior" complex as well. But Percy's struggle is also to clear his name, due to "being born with wrong ancestry". That struggle is of course, still relevant in today's world. And the film does a decent job of showcasing that.
James also portrays the subject of gender equality quite beautifully. Although you also have to give credit to Sienna Miller's beautiful performance, as a woman struggling to keep balance between keeping her family together, supporting her husband, and following her own pursuits, in a world where women are almost considered secondary citizen. Talking of performances, the film is beautifully cast with every actor just fit for the role. Charlie Hunnam is wonderful as Percy Fawcett. He brings out the explorer, the warrior, the family man and the human being in him, just perfectly.
Tom Holland as Percy's son, is also quite wonderful. From being an angry teenager, to a companion in his father's explorations, it's quite wonderful to see him in this film. His performance guarantees another complex layer to his Peter Parker (aka Spiderman). And the surprise performance of the film is the wonderful Robert Pattinson. He's almost unrecognizable in the supporting role he plays in the film. But he completely immerses him in that role, and gives a wonderful performance as Henry Costin a fellow explorer, companion and true friend to Percy. The rest of the cast, including casting of indigenous people is also pretty good.
The film is beautifully shot in Colombia, on 35mm, a choice James made due to quality of output he got on film. The script is wonderful and the film is nicely edited, keeping the story tight and moving. The war scene is also quite brutal, but realistic looking. But nothing beats the beautiful shots of jungles & river, and indigenous people in ether land. It was lil annoying to see the indigenous people speak Spanish, but not sure if that's correct or not. But for the most part, film looks realistic and moves nicely.
An Amazon Studios/Bleecker Street release.