Posted: April 21st, 2011
Lost in the Amazon
Watch the Full Episode

On April 20, 1925, Colonel Percy Fawcett, his elder son Jack Fawcett and Jack’s lifelong friend, Raleigh Rimmell, departed from Cuiabá, the capital city of the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso, to find “Z” – Col. Fawcett’s name for what he believed to be an ancient city lost in the uncharted jungles of Brazil. The search for the mysterious Lost City of Z would be the great explorer’s last expedition. All three men would vanish without a trace.

Eighty-six years later, Secrets of the Dead has mounted a modern day quest with explorer Niall McCann to find the truth behind the disappearance of famed adventurer Col. Percy Fawcett and his party in Lost in the Amazon, premiering nationally Wednesday, April 20, 2011 at 8 p.m. (ET) on PBS (check local listings).

  • James Clem

    Having read “The Lost City of Z” I eagerly watched this segent on Percy Fawcett. It uncovered some interesting facts and in many ways was very good except for one thing. The music. Not only was the soundtrack a total mish mash of what sounds like a synthesizer with heavy reverberation and echo, it was mixed at a level that made it difficult to even understand the narration. The music has no real theme or melody, but a very annoying mix of goofy sound effects and sustained notes that is unrelenting in that in the rare instance (half a minute or so) that there is no soundtrack it is such a relief for the viewer, but then it is cranked up again. This is not the kind of quality I would expect of PBS (I am a paid supporter). You can do better. In fact, just about anything would be an improvement. Well, that is my two cents!

  • Josie Irvine

    I’ve recently returned from touring Cahokia Mounds & Woodhenge, Fort Ancient, and Newark Circle & Octagonal Earthworks, places I’ve wanted to see all my life. I was thrilled to see that “Lost in the Amazon” showed us some of the Amazon earthworks that are being uncovered. That there were circular and octagonal earthworks nearly made me sputter in astonishment! How similar they appear to Newark Circle and Octagon complexes. I’d love to see more programs about new world mounds archeology, geodesy, and the field of archeology in general. As regards music, I would think that PBS overall, would encourage producers to use indigenous musical arrangements and instrumentation. Thanks for all you do and keep up the good work.

  • Daniel

    Very good documentary. I’ve been a long-time obsessee of the Fawcett story since reading Exploration Fawcett years ago. It has still managed to captivate my imagination. I’m pleased to see a renewed interest in Fawcett, although I’d love to see a more in-depth look at all of his claims during his expeditions, as there are some pretty wild ones in there.

    I am also very happy to see clear info on Fawcett’s beliefs and spiritual focus on his son Jack. About 10 years ago I remember reading that playwright Mischa Williams had gained access to a trunk of Fawcett’s personal papers from his living family members. He made claims about Jack being worshipped and Fawcett wanted to start a commune of sorts in the jungle, then I heard nothing further. I was disappointed that David Grann didn’t mention this in his great book, The Lost City of Z, although he credits Williams in the book.

    With this and the items found, it certainly makes a very convincing theory about Fawcett’s probable demise. It has the evidence to stand up against the many shaky and contradictory theories that have sprung up throughout the years.

  • delere

    To James:
    I know what you mean about the ’soundtrack.’ It’s a problem I’ve noticed in more and more tv shows in the last couple of years. I have stopped watching show that do this because it is so frustrating. Sad to see PBS doing this.

    Having said that the show seemed interesting from what I could make out through the noise.

  • LM Denison

    This video has not worked for the 5 weeks or so I’ve been trying to watch it. Do you people ever fix a problem like this? Look at the previous comments! How much respect for you am I supposed to have after seeing that you never fix this problem??

  • A Visit to Union Avenue Books « Cassie Knoxvillian

    [...] It retells the story of the last expedition of British explorer Percy Fawcett, who sought to find “El Dorado” within the Amazon in Brazil.  He and his crew never returned.  And we don’t exactly know what happened to them.  I’m waiting for Jordan to finish the book first. And I am trying really, really hard to wait until after I have read the book to watch the PBS Secrets of the Dead episode about Percy Fawcett.  If you don’t want to wait for the book, you can watch it here. [...]

  • Phil

    To James and Delere – I personally didn’t have a problem at all with the music score, and thought it fit fine. Projects like this simply don’t have the budget for an orchestra with ethnic instrument soloists, so they are frequently scored by one person, often using synthesizers mixed with samples of acoustic instruments.

    If you found the music too loud however, that I do understand and sympathize with. Even the composer himself would not wish you to be distracted by the volume of the music.

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