The Realistic Depiction of The Lost City of Z

Courtesy of Amazon Pictures

I was enticed by The Lost City of Z and what the movie promised in the trailer. Having never read the book or know anything about explorer Colonel Percival Fawcett, I don’t know how this movie is going to end and was expecting a scene of grandeur revelation  much like the Indiana Jones movie. Boy was I sorely dissapointed. However, I will not dismiss this as a bad movie just because it did not live up to my expectation. It is a very well acted and true-to-it’s-original-source movie. Which also mean it is ploddingly slow until well into the first half hour of the movie. So to summarize, be prepare for some good acting, actors who fully immersed into their character roles, and the ending true to the original account of the event. Don’t expect a big budget, fictional depiction of a Hollywood adventure movie.

At the end of the screening that I attended, they set up an audience Q&A with director James Grey and he told the behind the story about how he got the call from Brad Pitt who pitch him this story and the making of Lost City Of Z.
Turned out the 45 minutes Q & A is much more interesting than the movie itself. James discussed how Brad Pitt want to do the film with him but pulled out because of his commitment to World War Z, then Brad sent Benedict Cumberbacht to meet with James Grey about starring in it. The movie was all set to shoot but at the last minute, Benedict called James to tell him that he was dropping out of the project because his wife will be giving birth in the middle of the jungle shoot schedule and he wanted to be with his wife at that time.
The movie languished until James was told Charlie Hunnam was interested in the movie. The director James Grey never watched Pacific Rim or Sons Of Anarchy and have no idea who or where Charlie came from but he was not oppose to the meeting. Charlie came by for dinner and the director realized that Charlie could be a right person to play Fawcett and his instinct was correct.

James Grey also discussed how during the production , Charlie Hunnam and Rob Pattinson were try to out-starved each other to look like a famine for the role and how the whole production was roughing it for months during filming in the Colombian jungle living in eco-lodges and taking showers in collected rain water. The entire jungle scenes were shot with available lights and fire torches for it’s night scenes because they do not have the budget to fly in generators and drop them in the middle of the jungle to light the movies.
He also shot the entire movie with traditional 35mm analog film and pray every day that Fedex will deliver the undeveloped film in containers all the way to London for processing. He confessed there were a day or two when the film got lost and they had to re-shoot some scenes because of that.
James talked about how he wanted to shoot in the original location where the real Colonel Percival Fawcett discover the lost city deep in the Amazon but when he actually got to the real location, it had been turned into a soy field by MacDonald, of all company, who made the location into an animal grazing field for their livestock. It is a very sad realization of how the jungle is being destroyed for commerce and contribute to the destruction of the ozone layer with the massive amount of methane/carbon emission from the livestock’s waste.
They also indeed found traces of advance civilization exist in that site through the remains of pots and pans, as well as traces of irrigations and ruins that confirmed Colonel Percival Fawcett’s claim over a century ago about the existence of advance civilization deep in the jungle of Amazon.

Well here you go folks, a little behind the scene tid bits from the Lost City of Z. It is currently playing in a VERY limited release (2 cinemas total in NYC). If you want to see a realistic explorer adventure with good acting, this movie is for you. But if you expect a hollywood big budget, Indiana Jones type of adventure, you need to look elsewhere.