James Gray had his work cut out for him with THE LOST CITY OF Z. He had to find a way to include World War I, upper-crust Edwardian Society, and the jungles of Bolivia, in his adaptation of David Grann’s book about Percy Fawcett’s obsession with finding a lost city in the wilds of Amazonia. The good news is that the result is that most wondrous of hybrids: the intellectual adventure film.
When we spoke on April 9, 2017, my first question was about the way his film invites the audience to consider the definition of civilization.
We went on to talk about how contemporary the themes are in a film set in the early part of the 20th century; the vulnerability of indigenous peoples depicted; the mythic quality of Fawcett’s quest; and how yellow legal pads figure into his process.
We finished up with how Gray had to recalibrate the trenches at the Battle of Somme for cinema; Charlie Hunnam’s fierce commitment to the role of Fawcett; and whether or not a lightning strike on set was a sign from the universe.
Andrea Chase takes you Behind the Scenes of THE LOST CITY OF Z with James Gray. THE LOST CITY OF Z is a tale of obsession, conviction, and discovery. Charlie Hunnam stars at Percy Fawcett, a British officer and surveyor at the start on the 20th century cursed with unfortunate ancestors that thwart his social and professional ambitions. He dreams of glory but instead is charged by the government with establishing the border between Bolivia and Brazil for the Royal Geographical Society in order to make the world safe for Europe’s lucrative Amazonian rubber plantations. While there, he finds evidence of a lost civilization, and becomes obsessed with finding it. It’s an obsession that survives the first world war, conflict with his beloved wife and oldest son, and the general derision of the scientific and military cognoscenti of his day, for whom the inhabitants of the Amazon are too backward to have ever achieved anything of note. The film co-stars Robert Pattinson as Fawcett’s fellow explorer and aide-de-camp, Tom Holland as his son, Sienna Miller as his wife whose belief in his dream conflicts with her own dreams, and Angus MacFayden as the nobleman whose friendship and largesse are not as helpful as they seem. Gray directed from his own script based on the book by David Gran. His previous work includes THE IMMIGRANT, TWO LOVERS, WE OWN THE NIGHT, THE YARDS, and LITTLE ODESSA.