Kon-Tiki (2013)

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.28-kon-tiki.w750.h560.2x

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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!

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*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…

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