The film follows the life of Colonel Percival Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam), a real life British explorer and his amazing attempts to locate a lost Amazonian city.
The film is set in 1905, at a time when explorers eagerly travelled to remote areas of the world with no more than a stiff British upper lip, a compass and few resources to hire “savages” to show them the way.
Fawcett is more enlightened than most, acknowledging indigenous people were more advanced than was commonly thought at the time. The film is largely based on fact, save the occasional cinematic shorthand and hypothesized ending .
Fawcett, saddled with an unfortunate family pedigree due to his fathers disgrace, is attempting to cultivate favour in the army and improve his position and reputation. This was important at time in history when a mans standing represented career life or death.
He is later chosen to conduct an exploration in Bolivia, ostensibly to head off a potential war between two countries. Despite set-backs, he makes real progress and attempts to balance an ever expanding family life, with his growing obsession searching for the lost Amazonian city, glimpsed on earlier trips
The pace of the film is languid, old fashioned, arguably overlong but is undeniably beautifully shot by director James Gray and his cinematographer, mostly on location. The jungle panoramas must have been taxing to shoot, bearing in mind the huge logistics involved with a film crew and “A” list actors.
Charlie Hunnam as Fawcett is surprisingly good, tough when needed, vulnerable when not and shows real depth to his acting. Robert Pattinson provides solid support as his trusty sidekick, through both jungle and WW1. The later war scenes are well staged and believably filmed.
Bringing up the home front is Fawcett’s wife Nina Sienna Miller, no shrinking violent, she makes her views very plain and both the character and actor provide excellent support for the main players. Tom Holland also gets a late showing as Fawcett’s older son, keen to join his father on his adventures as he becomes an adult within the story.
This is a film about self exploration, obsession, naivety and ultimately a man following his perceived destiny for good and ill. An amazing yet largely true story which is well acted, filmed, albeit too long, all of which guaranteed it would not find a modern audience, which is a pity.
If you want to know more details post film viewing, here are some facts:- Percy Fawcett
Far better than you might expect, due to the lack of fanfare when the film was released but well worth seeking out.
Accepting the film is about the journey rather than the destination, audiences will find much to enjoy here,