The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon was a bestselling, eminently readable 2009 book by ace nonfiction writer David Grann. Based on Grann’s earlier article in The New Yorker, the book went back and forth in time between the story of early 20th century explorer Percy Fawcett, who disappeared while searching of the lost city in the Amazon in 1925, and Grann’s attempts to find out what happened to Fawcett, by visiting the Amazon himself.
The story was so naturally cinematic that a movie adaptation was probably inevitable. And now it’s on the way, with Charlie Hunnam playing Fawcett, future Marvel Spider-Man Tom Holland as his son Jack, Sienna Miller as his wife Nina and Robert Pattinson as a fellow explorer. James Gray is directing the film.
Today the first trailer appeared for The Lost City of Z, clocking in at more than three minutes, but since it was a sales version designed to attract the attention of distributors, rather than moviegoers, it was quickly taken down. The trailer depicted Hunnam as Fawcett, who leaves behind his family in England to go exploring and search for a lost city of gold in Bolivia. While sailing down the Amazon, Fawcett's group is set upon by a tribe who attack them with bows and arrows until Fawcett manages to signal that they mean no harm. After being permitted to enter the tribe's village, the explorer gets to know them better (and stumbles upon the grisly revelation that they are cannibals). Check out some screenshots below, courtesy of IndieWire:
Further scenes showed Fawcett returning to England with tall tales of his exploits, facing incredulity when he suggests that the "savages" are their equals, and even more so when he opines about the lost city "bedecked with gold." The trailer also showed Miller's character growing increasingly unhappy about Fawcett leaving his family behind to pursue adventure and danger, but - as history teaches us - he can't be held back either by his peers or his family attachments.
The Lost City of Z took a few years to make it to the screen. After Brad Pitt’s company Plan B optioned the book in 2010, it took the film some time to come together, with Pitt himself rumored to star and Benedict Cumberbatch later cast as Fawcett. But the film finally did get off the ground last year; when Cumberbatch dropped out due to his Doctor Strange and Sherlock commitments, Hunnam (from Sons of Anarchy and Pacific Rim) stepped into the lead role of the explorer Fawcett.
Will The Lost City of Z work on screen? Well, it certainly has strong source material; this is one of those books that likely had most people reading it visualizing the movie. And Gray has been on a career roll of late; his last film, The Immigrant, was probably his best work, and judging by the trailer this adaptation looks visually stunning. On the other hand, the film appears to omit anything about Grann and his search for Fawcett, which was one of the book’s more interesting aspects.
Update: Official synopsis, two HD photos, and release date revealed:
Based on author David Grann’s nonfiction bestseller, THE LOST CITY OF Z tells the incredible true story of British explorer Percy Fawcett, who journeys into the Amazon at the dawn of the 20th century and discovers evidence of a previously unknown, advanced civilization that may have once inhabited the region. Despite being ridiculed by the scientific establishment who regard indigenous populations as “savages,” the determined Fawcett – supported by his devoted wife (Sienna Miller), son (Tom Holland) and aide de camp (Robert Pattinson) – returns time and again to his beloved jungle in an attempt to prove his case, culminating in his mysterious disappearance in 1925. An epically-scaled tale of courage and obsession, told in Gray’s classic filmmaking style, THE LOST CITY OF Z is a stirring tribute to the exploratory spirit and those individuals driven to achieve greatness at any cost.
The Lost City of Z opens in theaters April 21, 2017.