Excerpt from National Geographic: Writer/director James Gray’s adventure epic, The Lost City of Z, follows British explorer Percy Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam) through his many voyages into the unknown jungles of the Amazon in the first part of the 20th century. Leaving his wife, Nina (Sienna Miller), behind in England, Fawcett and his aide-de-camp, Henry Costin (Robert Pattinson), disappear into a world few Europeans had ever experienced to uncover a lost land no one anticipated. In adapting David Grann’s bestselling nonfiction book of the same name, Gray was fascinated by Fawcett’s unquenchable spirit of adventure and exploration.
“Here was a person for whom the search meant everything,” explains Gray. “His dream of finding an ancient Amazonian civilization sustained him through unimaginable hardships, the skepticism of the scientific community, startling betrayals and years spent away from his family.”
Fawcett’s numerous trips to the region unlocked endless secrets about the Amazon’s flora and fauna, as well as its geography and local populations. But it is what happened to him during his last expedition in 1925 alongside his son, Jack (played by Tom Holland), that remains perhaps his greatest mystery.
In bringing to the screen Fawcett’s experience, Gray needed to capture not only the beauty, but also the danger that lay around every bend in the river. In addition to giant snakes and vampire bats, not to mention swarms of bugs and incurable diseases, Fawcett was acutely aware of the imminent violence posed by indigenous tribes. Locals warned him “to venture up into the midst of them is sheer madness.” Believing that the native people, who had been abused for decades by rubber plantations, were basically peaceful, Fawcett devised nonviolent strategies to disarm them. On one occasion, he met arrows with music, singing out popular tunes until the locals put down their bows to listen. Over time, Fawcett championed the local tribes as being as unique and complex as the jungles they occupied.
The Lost City of Z opens in theaters in New York and Los Angeles on April 14 and then nationwide on April 21.