Scene it: Kon-Tiki

At first when my friend asked me to come see this film, I wasn’t sure a movie about a bunch of twentysomethings getting drunk as they’re bussed around Europe would be for me. Luckily I realised in time for the preview that it was an invitation to see the Norwegian movie, Kon-Tiki (2012).

Directed by Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg, this fillum tells the story of Thor Heyerdahl’s epic 8,000 km crossing over the open Pacific Ocean in 1947. The Kon-Tiki expedition was an adventure that captured the attention of a world still recovering from war. The film is a fascinating examination of the spirit of that seemingly impossible journey.

Norwegian scientist Thor Heyerdahl (Pål Sverre Hagen) is desperate to prove a thesis that he has spent ten years researching: that it was possible for people to have sailed east from Peru, and populated Polynesia in pre-Columbian times. Gathering a crew of five Scandinavian friends old and new (with just one sailor in the mix), Heyerdahl sets out to authenticate his controversial theory. They build a traditional South American balsa wood raft using only the same materials available 1500 years ago— a test of the raft’s seaworthiness, and Heyerdahl.

Departing from Lima, they drift across the sea with the hope to reach Polynesia in 100 days. Along the way this well-crafted dramatised account depicts the crew’s battles with nature, themselves and their belief in Tiki.

It’s the first Norwegian film to be nominated for both an Oscar and a Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film in 2013. Interestingly, the movie was shot in both Norwegian and English (I saw the English version). The attention to detail is great— both in the period setting and the filmmakers commitment to film off-set, and in open water.

Splashes of humour relieve the growing tension through the antics of ethnographer Bengt Danielsson (Gustaf Skarsgård). The special effects are seamless and there are some beautiful visual moments: the small boat floating in the middle of the ocean at the mercy of nature; luminescent sea creatures; curious Whale Sharks; and, the twinkling, expansive Milky Way. Sharks are a menacing presence and their place as foe is established early. Along with others in the cinema (yes, they did too), I jumped and squirmed during the ‘seacapades’. Really, who dangles their feet in open water?

Pål Sverre Hagen performs well as the leader torn between the choice he has made to prove his theory over his family, while Thor’s wife Liv Heyerdahl (Agnes Kittelsen) supports him but must pick up the pieces. Mention also to (the tight abs of) Tobias Santelmann as Knut Haugland— the sea-sick radio operator who wrestles demons on the journey and in real life, later established the Kon-Tiki Museum in Oslo.

Other Kon-Tiki crew sailing:

Heyerdahl viewed the sea as a pathway for communication. Going in to this fictionalised account, I knew little of the events from 1947. Just under two hours later, I’m singing the seaworthiness of this sea shanty.

Choctop: Chocolate obsession with a Jaffa on top

Rich chocolate ice cream with a thick, uneven chocolate coating. The icy cold Jaffa decoration provided an extra crunch.

This review is part of my log of fillums and choc top fillings, Scene It.

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3 thoughts on “Scene it: Kon-Tiki

  1. The risky feet dangling, the tight abs, mix of old and young as well as only having one person with local (ie aquatic) experience show just how true to life a Contiki 18-35 trip is.

    Nice review, makes me want to check this movie out.

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