Film Review: Kon-Tiki

Many people are born with a natural desire for discovery. A few are driven throughout their lives towards adventure and exploration, occasionally spurred on to great things. The Dark Ages, and the loss of knowledge, led to centuries where the prevailing belief was in a flat Earth. The efforts of people such as Columbus, Cook, Magellan and Cabot have fundamentally changed history and our understanding of the world. In 1947, Norwegian Thor Heyerdahl was so convinced that South Americans travelled from Peru to the Polynesian islands he decided to prove it was possible by replicating the feat himself.

Thor Heyerdahl (Pål Sverre Valheim Hagen) gathers his crew whilst struggling to find financial backing for the enterprise in America. He recruits engineer Herman Watzinger (Anders Baasmo Christiansen) who helps him to design a raft using only the materials ((balsawood and rope) and techniques available to the indigenous people 1500 years earlier. They are joined by three fellow adventurers (Erik – Odd-Magnus Williamson, Knut – Tobias Santelmann and Torstein – Jakob Oftebro) and anthropologist cum makeshift cameraman Bengt (Gustaf Skarsgård). Along the way Thor has to deal with sharks, tensions onboard, rough seas, an unpredictable course and a slowly deteriorating raft.

Kon-Tiki is unique in the way it was filmed. It’s Norway’s most expensive ever film, and due to difficulties in raising funds, an English version was filmed at the same time as the Norwegian language cut. This was done by filming the same scenes twice with the different dialogue. The documentary filmed of the expedition won an Academy Award in 1950 and this is alluded to by the use of ‘archive’ footage within Kon-Tiki. There aren’t enough films made like this, and it’s a powerful reminder about the determination of the human spirit and the pull of adventure. Joachim Rønning & Espen Sandberg’s film is rightly in the running for an Oscar. It’s a subtle yet powerful drama/action film which delves much deeper than most.

Kon-Tiki is out in cinemas on Friday.

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