The House of David

"dawnbreak in the west"

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Going astray with "The Lost City Of Z"

I watched the "Lost City Of Z(ed)" last weekend. I feel cheated.

I liked it at the time, but some scenes felt off. Mrs Fawcett’s interest in joining Percy on an adventure contributed little to the plot; it looked like a shoehorned Strong Female Protagonist. Elsewhere the movie set up a debate where the “explorer”, progressive, was arguing against other Englishmen, racists, who didn’t believe the natives capable of higher civilization. I apologise in advance for the grumbleflaunt: even in 1905 most archaeologists of the Americas knew better than to argue from racism. In Mesoamerica, which also has jungles, English-speakers (not just Spanish-speakers) were editing and translating the Chilam Balam books. So the Anglosphere was well aware of the Mayas’ old ruins and literacy. This means they wouldn't rule out of hand that the Amazonian tribes might have built similar in their forests.

Yesterday I checked out the reviews – didn’t get to them here because I was chasing a feminist squirrel, but today I’ll do it.

Armond White’s review was typical National Review neocon cluelessness. For White, the movie was a critique of imperialism; which I didn’t catch at all. Someone get White into a safe space. (I agree with White that the movie's camera-work was weak, although we all must concede that the director had / has an eye for exoticism and natural beauty.)

More to the point is that the real Percy Fawcett was of an early-20th-century Type. Fawcett thought there were lost white civilisations out there. Fawcett’s lineage is the Book of Mormon; his legacy is the Solutrean Hypothesis. The movie missed a golden opportunity to confront these myths, still strong in the alt-right today.

It strikes me that to the extent that twentieth-century English and American scholars disputed the City Of Z, they disputed the sort of people who built whatever ruins the Amazon might reveal. This is a point for the skeptics at the time. Also if Fawcett had listened to them, he would have saved his own life and his family.

So the movie wasn’t boring, but it was foolish – and I am not okay with that. The real fools are we who paid for tickets.


posted by Zimri on 16:59 | link | 0 comments

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