Kon-Tiki: Rated “PG-13“ (118 Minutes)
Starring: Pål Sverre Hagen, Odd-Magnus Williamson, Tobias Santelmann, Anders Baasmo Christiansen, Jakob Oftebro
Directed by: Joachim Rønning, Espen Sandberg
In 1947, after 10 years of study and expounding on his theory that Polynesian had been settled by, not explorers from the East who sailed West, but individuals who set sail from Peru, and traveled East — not on boats, but rafts made out of balsa wood — Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl, together with five men, crossed the Pacific ocean in a balsa wood raft. They did this to prove that, 1,500 years earlier, South Americans from pre-Columbian Peru had already done this — crossing the great ocean and settling the Polynesian islands. Needless to say, he proved his theory, and reversed decades of “known” information.
From that voyage, Heyerdahl wrote a book, and produced a documentary (which won an Academy Award in 1951). This film is a re-enactment of that voyage. After gathering financing for the trip with loans and donations, the intrepid explorers set off on an epic 101 day-long journey across 8,000 kilometers of open ocean, while all the world was watching. Kon-Tiki re-tells about the origin of Heyerdahl’s idea and the events surrounding the group’s voyage.
Now, we totally remember both reading the book, and watching the original documentary when we were (much) younger, so it was with some eagerness that we went to see this film, and we are so glad that we did, as it gave us new insights and appreciation to what these men went through in their discovery. From what we remember of both the book and original film, it all seemed pretty standard. These guys set off to discover something and obviously did. (Re)watching their exploits in this film made the events seem all the more thrilling as they were tossed about by storms, were accosted by sharks, and investigated by whales.
This was not some easy task that these men set out to prove. They built their raft precisely the way it was built some 1,500 years earlier. Further, while they did take a radio, they didn’t also pack a motor or have an escort to get them out of trouble should they need it. They went just the way the Peruvians went all those years ago. This is not only a very cool film, but an outstanding story of exploration as well as a testament to someone believing that they are right, and willing to put everything on the line in order to prove it.
Robert J. Sodaro has been reviewing films for some 30 years. During that time, his movie reviews and articles have appeared in numerous print publications, as well as on the web. Subscribe to receive regular articles and movie reviews.