KON-TIKI —-with allowances for a little expected dramatic license, this 2012 historical adventure drama is a winner all the way. Older audiences may have dutifully watched the 1950 documentary (in black & white and most likely on old black & white TVs), or picked up one of the twenty million copies of Thor Heyerdahl’s book about his
lunatic daring 1947 sea voyage. At around $15,500,000 this color dramatization was Norway’s most expensive feature film and sailed to an Oscar-nomination as Best Foreign Film.* Reviews were happy and box-office applause came to $23,000,000 (half of that in its homeland, where it was the biggest-ever native hit).
Released in two versions, one in Norwegian at 119 minutes, one five minutes shorter in English, but whichever you catch, it’s a beauty to look at, with wonder-invoking views of the ocean waves and storms, enchanting and fearsome sea life and handy sense of camaraderie from the likable crew, sharing vicarious thrills.
Though the outcome is a foregone conclusion, the narrative rush of the six-man mission on basically a stack of logs in the vastness of the Pacific keeps tension and excitement locked; despite the broad scope of the Kon-Tiki trek a sense of intimacy is retained, with humor and no little wistfulness to add texture. Along with period detail of a day gone by, that wistful overlay is inevitable, given awareness of the ill state of the Ocean today, and feeling that there’s just not much no-man-gone-before High Adventure left. And there was just one experienced sailor on board! Great cast, excellent blend-in of convincing and non-showy special effects, fine music score. Good stuff here that leaves a smile in its wake.
Filmed in Malta, Thailand, the Maldives, Bulgaria and Sweden, with cinematography by Geir Hartly Andreassen, music score Johan Söderqvist, it was directed by Joachim Rønning, and Espen Sandberg.
With Pål Sverre Valheim Hagen (perfectly pitched as Heyerdahl), Anders Baasmo Christensen, Tobias Santelmann, Gustav Skarsgard, Odd-Magnus Williamson, Jacob Offebro and Agnes Kittlesen (reason to survive getting smashed on a reef after a 101-day, 4300 mile journey on balsa and bamboo). Basically, disse gutta hadde baller som elefanter!
*The original won the statue for Best Documentary, competing in its category that Red-baiting year with the drama-mentary I Was A Communist For The F.B.I. Sail away, Team Hoover…