The Lost City of Z

4 Sep

An item on the Deadline Hollywood website caught my attention this morning after someone tweeted it.  Apparently Benedict Cumberbatch is in negotiations to star as Colonel Percy Fawcett in “The Lost City of Z”.

For me this is damn near more exciting than any possibility of Benedict staring in Star Wars.  Percy Fawcett is a real life hero of mine.  The idea of Benedict Cumberbatch playing him makes me all tingly.

In 1906 Percy Fawcett undertook to comprehensively map South America.  Even at that time most of South America was represented on maps as simply blank space.  The jungle was so impenetrable that no-one had been able to do it.  That didn’t stop Percy.  Out he went like a one man google earth.

He also started the airline that eventually became Peru’s national carrier.

Percy Fawcett was a friend of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s.  It was his descriptions of the dense Bolivian jungle that inspired Sir Arthur to write “The Lost World”.  His Professor Challenger has more than a passing resemblance to the great Percy Fawcett.

In many ways, too, Percy Fawcett was the template for Indiana Jones as well.

The Colonel also left us a lasting mystery.  The one that “The Lost City of Z” will cover.  In 1925 Percy and his son Jack disappeared into the jungle to search for a lost city.  They were never seen again.

Despite Fawcett’s wishes, two search parties were sent after them.  They found nothing.  Even a search in the 1970s uncovered nothing except violent tribesmen who robbed them of their equipment, and were barely persuaded from taking their lives.

Rumour surrounded Percy Fawcett’s disappearance.  Was he simply murdered?  Eaten by cannibals?  The most persistent rumour had him living out the rest of his life as the chief of a jungle tribe.

The fascinating thing is that even now, we still don’t know what happened.  The mysterious disappearance of Percy Fawcett is still as mysterious in 2013 as it was in 1925.



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