In the Jungle of Madness: The Lost City of Z

z2017.74: The Lost City of Z (2016)

This is an old-style period adventure, akin to a combination Greystoke and Apocalypse Now in tone, based on the true-life odyssey of British explorer Lieut. Col. Percy Fawcett at the turn of the 20th Century, whose expeditions in search of a fabled lost civilization in the wild jungles of Amazonia came to take over his life. It’s a fascinating film that likely undermines viewers expectations with a languid pace (hence my reference to ‘old-style’) and a grim denouement that rewards simply because it confounds traditional expectations.

The sense of time and place is pretty wonderful, harking back to an age when the world was still full of mysteries with corners yet unexplored. The sequences in the jungle have an almost tangible feeling of heat and sweat and smell, and in its search for lost civilization lost in the primeval Jungle it reminded me of quite a few Robert E Howard yarns, especially in its hints that civilization is transitory and the Jungle eternal. Sequences back in England have an authentic feel and a section depicting Fawcetts period in the trenches of WW1 also impresses.

Indeed there is very little to find fault with here. It is very well-staged with a fine cast and solid script, and beautifully shot. The pace may be problematic for fidgety modern audiences, but that’s their problem-like with BR2049 I found it refreshing for a film to be allowed to breathe and tell its tale confidently at its own pace. I suspect the film’s title in this day and age may have suggested an adventure romp such as the Indiana Jones series ot the Mummy films but it’s far from that, and much the better for it, even if it likely led to trouble at the box-office from annoyed audiences. Its great that films such as this can still be made.  I really enjoyed it- one of this years pleasant surprises.