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Kon Tiki – Movie Review


Kon Tiki – Movie Review by Eveleen Coyle

Directors: Joachim Roenning and Espen Sandberg

Cast: Pal Sverre Hagen, Anders Baasmo Christiansen, Tobias Santelmann, Gustafb Skarsgard, Odd Magnus Williamson, Jakob Oftebro and Agnes Kittelsen.

The Plot:

Based on the true life story of an expedition undertaken in April 1947 by legendary Norwegian explorer Thor Heyedahl. Heyedahl was determined to prove that Polynesia was discovered by South Americans rather than Asians as was commonly believed.

On 27 April 1947, Thor set out on a journey from Calleo in Peru on a balsa wood raft leaving behind his wife and sons, to prove his theory. He named his raft after the Inca sun god, Kon Tiki and constructed it exactly as he believed the original raft would have been built 1500 years before.

The Film:

This is a cracking, beautifully shot old fashioned adventure story. The characters are not particularly well developed but the action is terrific.

Nothing will deter Thor (Per Sverre Hagen) from his belief in his work or himself despite the greater scientific world rubbishing his theories; indeed this only served to drive him on. But without the scientific community behind him, funding proved difficult and it was the President of Peru who finally committed to his expedition.

Thor gathered an unlikely crew of four Norwegians and one Swede for his voyage, none of whom had any experience of the sea (Thor himself couldn’t swim). So along with a parrot, a basic radio set and a cine-camera they embarked on a 5,000 mile journey which took 101 days. Extremes of weather, man-eating sharks, storms and the sheer power of the ocean and elements are just part of what they had to survive; they had to survive each other also. The storms are spectacular, the power of the sea magnificent. Through it all, the calm, ambitious Thor never faltered in his own belief.

Anders Baasmo Christiansen is magic in the part of Herman Watsinger, an engineer and ex-refrigerator salesman. In many ways he is the most developed character and reflects with pathos and humour of what the crew must have gone through – the roller coaster of fear and excitement and of trying to keep belief alive.

The highlight of the film has to be the sensational shot where the camera retreats up to the sky through the stars and almost beyond the world, showing the sheer scale of the ocean, the stars and the world itself. It puts into perspective the tininess of the raft Kon Tiki, the pure courage of the expedition and triumph of the human spirit.

Norwegian directors Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg were nominated for a number of awards including best foreign language film in the Academy Awards and Golden Globes USA in 2013. Kon-Tiki. At present they working on Pirates of the Caribbean 5.

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