THE LOST CITY OF Z: Discovering the Adventure

In “The Lost City of Z,” the spirit of adventure and admiration for the primal nature are significant.

Mikołaj Lewalski

30 November 2023

“We were born too late to explore our planet, but too early to explore the cosmos” – this well-worn phrase aptly captures the human longing for adventure and taking the first steps into uncharted territories. Such journeys may seem like the dream of a madman at first glance: months, sometimes even years of life in challenging conditions, where diseases, accidents, and even potential death lurk at every step. It involves isolation from loved ones and the familiar standards of life. However, our romantic, pioneering spirit has always been able to overcome reason and lead us to the ends of the earth.

“The Lost City of Z” serves us a rather standard introduction. During a spectacularly staged hunting scene, we meet British Colonel Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam) – from the start, we know he is a determined and competent man. However, the mindset of the early 20th century upper echelons prevents him from spreading his wings, regardless of his ambitions. Sins of his father hang over him and his name like a malevolent specter from the past. Desperate and determined, he decides to embark on an expedition to the Amazon to fill in a blank spot on the map and establish universal boundaries between two regions. His companion is the eccentric but experienced Costin (subdued and very authentic Robert Pattinson) – neither of the men suspects that this journey will completely transform their worldview.

Awe. That word kept circling in my mind during the screening. Incredible visuals, impressive and not glaringly CGI-laden panoramas, a constant sense of great adventure. I felt as if I were part of this expedition and had the opportunity to experience something not granted to ordinary mortals.

These feelings were heightened by Fawcett’s character. Charlie Hunnam fantastically portrayed the passion and determination of his character. Although his decisions were purely selfish, even motivated by obsession, I could understand his way of thinking and identify with him. However, I had a problem with the marital subplot, which seemed detached from the overall narrative. Sienna Miller, while having no problem portraying a strong, independent woman, lacked finesse in discussions about social roles. I am not opposed to promoting feminism; on the contrary, but in this case, it came across as overly didactic and unnatural. The film portrayed opposition to colonialism and the arrogance of the white man, considering other peoples as primitive and inferior, much more convincingly.

Since the film’s action spans over two decades of the first half of the 20th century, we have the opportunity to examine various socio-political phenomena, allowing us to understand the protagonist’s motivation, his family’s situation, and the broader context of the organized expeditions. Full immersion in the era is made possible by the fantastic set design. Both the environment and costumes, as well as makeup, contribute to a very credible depiction. The use of a color filter proved to be an interesting and successful idea, evoking the feel of age-old, yellowed photographs.

The majesty of the Amazon is a great attraction of the film, so I was disappointed with what I initially thought was an unnecessary abbreviation of the first expedition. In hindsight, it was a sensible move, creating a genuine sense of the protagonist’s dissatisfaction and the desire for continuation. However, no one here spins fairy tales – we have no doubts that explorers face numerous dangers. Our heroes encounter several significant threats, revealing that the director is much more adept at creating less dynamic scenes. In the grand scheme of things, this is irrelevant – we are not watching an action movie. In “The Lost City of Z,” the spirit of adventure and admiration for the primal nature are significant. It’s a film embodying a universal idea and its compelling force. It’s grand and beautiful cinema in an old-fashioned style.