The Top 5 Movie Explorers

The following was commissioned by Flickering Myth


Henry Bevan with his top five movie explorers…

After debuting to generally positive response in the UK, director James Gray’s absorbing, thought-provoking, and fascinating  The Lost City of Z is opening in the United States.

The film follows the exploits of the real-life explorer Percy Fawcett, played by Charlie Hunnam, leading up to his famous disappearance in 1925. The mysterious circumstances surrounding his disappearance have turned Fawcett into a figure almost as mythological as the city he was looking for.

His “myth” has impacted culture and he has inspired the creation of many fictional explorers. Inspired by the film’s US release, here are the Top 5 Movie Explorers.

Atlantis: The Lost Empire ©Disney
As one of the characters from Disney’s underrated “neo-Disney” era, Milo Thatch was a different type of Disney protagonist //©Disney //source: Flickering Myth

5) Milo Thatch – Atlantis: The Lost Empire

If there is one hallmark of many movie explorers it is that they must be obsessed with finding a lost city. Milo Thatch from Disney’s underrated Atlantis: The Lost Empire has been searching for Atlantis his whole life. However, he differs from the Doc Savage archetype. He’s a scrawny linguist who cares about preserving what he finds and is always the underdog. Milo Thatch is on this list because he proves anyone can be an explorer.

Aguirre, the Wrath of God
Aguirre has to deal with the consequences of colonisation //©Werner Herzog Filmproduktion //source: Flickering Myth

4) Aguirre – Aguirre, the Wrath of God

One of the original explorers is Aguirre. As a conquistador he laid tracks in the Amazon Fawcett would follow 200 years later. However, the conquistadors were colonial assholes who enslaved many natives. Werner Herzog’s film is about Aguirre suffering the consequences of imperialism as he is driven insane by his mission to find and conquer El Dorado. Klaus Kinski’s performance is utterly gripping and you can’t take your eyes off of him.

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
Even though they’re no benchmark for quality, Lara Croft makes her movies the best video game adaptations //©ParamountPictures //source: Flickering Myth

3) Lara Croft – Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life

Lara’s initial popularity may have been because of a computer glitch changing her assets, but her character is the reason she remains popular and is getting a movie reboot starring Alicia Vikander. She is strong and determined, often quite ruthless in her pursuit of mythological antiquities. But, it’s her resourcefulness and compassion that puts her on this list. Lara can triple backflip out of any perilous situation.

Lawrence of Arabia ©MGM
Like Peter O’Toole’s TE Lawrence, movie explorers are rarely accurate portraits of their real-life counterparts //©MGM //source: Flickering Myth

2) T.E. Lawrence – Lawrence of Arabia

As with Aguirre, real-life explorers found their adventures are entwined with imperialism. However, some explorers like T.E. Lawrence found their loyalties divided between their country and the native tribes they worked with. This conflict makes great drama and Lawrence of Arabia‘s portrait of Lawrence is fascinating. Whilst it may not be entirely accurate, the explorer’s representation as an egotist who becomes disenchanted with the adventure he is on is gripping. Often cruel and generous, Lawrence is a contradiction that ensnares you. He makes the epic runtime worth every minute.

Indiana Jones ©LucasFilm
The ultimate movie explorer, Indiana Jones is a composite of multiple real-life adventurers and fictional characters like James Bond //©LucasFilm //source: Flickering Myth

1) Indiana Jones – Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Could there really be anyone else? Whatever you think of the underrated Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, there is no doubting the legendary cinematic status Dr Jones has. He’s rubbish at archaeology, but he is very good at punching nazis. Indiana’s wit and determination have made him one of the most popular movie characters, and he harks back to a bygone era of swashbuckling heroics. Raiders of the Lost Ark introduced us to the most popular movie character of all time and 2019’s Indiana Jones 5 will continue his adventures. When it comes to Indiana Jones, we are all the girl with “I Love You” on her eyelids.

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