A few weeks north of two years ago, I wrote a genuinely excited reaction piece to the news that Brad Pitt and Paramount had bought the rights to ‘The Lost City Of Z’, the life story of early 20th century British explorer Col. Percy Fawcett, who went missing in 1925 in the uncharted jungles of Brazil.
During the 1920’s, Fawcett became convinced that he would be the first man to find the ancient lost city of El Dorado which the Conquistadors claimed had been buried for centuries in the Mato Grosso region of Brazil. Fawcett didn’t care much for the myth of the city, but did believe it existed. He rather un-lovingly called it Z.
In 1925, he set off with his son Jack and his son’s best friend Ralph to go deep into the jungle to find the city in what ultimately proved to be their final exploration. They were never to be heard from again, and neither were many of the hundreds who later went searching for them. Suddenly, the fearless man who had survived so many near-death escapades over the years, including encounters with cannibalism, huge anacondas, deadly piranha’s – became a mortal like everyone else.
Many have since romanticised the story of Fawcett, and it’s nice to think of an “Indiana Jones” sequel that maybe could have existed with Harrison Ford visiting the jungle in search of Fawcett, and finding him in captivity as an old, eccentric at the Lost City in the 1940’s. The likelihood of course is that he was killed by tribesman who weren’t keen on the Western world explorers.
Post-April 2008, we didn’t hear one snip about the movie until eventually in December of last year when writer/director James Gray (“We Own the Night”, “TwoLovers”) was hired and production looking to be finally gaining possible momentum. In truth, my anticipation slightly squandered as I have found Gray’s movies a little cold and lacking emotion but with Pitt leading and the mystery of Fawcett still so provocative after all these years, and the potential gorgeous imagery that the Brazil jungles could bring to the film, I quickly started looking forward to seeing the movie made this year.
All the signs around New Year period looked like this one was a go-er (just look at that beard Pitt is sporting these days) but according to Gray, financial problems have grounded the film and it won’t be either man’s next picture.
The Playlist carry a quote from Gray that they believe is a Google Translation of an already English to French translated interview;
"I hope to realize this project because it is not only challenging but it requires a substantial budget. It is an epic that begins in 1910 until 1925. This is huge because it is in England [and] in the Amazon. What does being a member of the civilized world? That means being part of the human race? It is a fundamental issue that has strong resonance even more today than yesterday. Here is a man who spent his time in the heart of the jungle and who has found beauty. We are seeking funding but I am convinced that we shall succeed."
Unsurprisingly then, funding is the major stumbling block as it’s dangerous on-location practicalities would involve a substantial, almost ‘Indy’ sized budget, and Gray hasn’t got the Spielberg power to make any movie he wants, so I guess it’s the delayed indefinitely tag for now.