WRITTEN BY: Petter Skavlan
DIRECTED BY: Joachim Ronning, Sepe Sandberg
STARRING: Pal Sverre Hagen, Anders Baasmo Christiansen, Gustaf Skarsgard, Tobias Santelmann, Jakob Oftebro, Odd Magnus Williamson
RATING: 4 stars
True stories often make great films. This extraordinary tale of how a crew of adventurers sailed cross the Pacific Ocean on a balsa wood raft is both mind boggling and inspiring. Kon-Tiki is the most expensive Norwegian film ever made but it is money well spent on such a fine production. Nominated for a 2013 Oscar in the best foreign film category, Kon-Tiki has great visual effects and cinematography. It is supported with a good cast and enough suspenseful moments (thanks to some shark interactions) to keep the story going without falling into the trap of being unnecessarily drawn out like so many other “lost at sea” themed films.
Set in 1947, Kon-Tiki tells the story of Thor Heyerdal (Pal Sverre Hagen) who believes South Americans settled in Polynesia in pre-Columbian times. To prove his theory, he decides to sail, as he believes they did, on a raft from Peru. He recruits three fellow Norwegians (Tobias Santelmann, Jakob Oftebro, Odd Magnus Williamson), a Swedish cameraman (Gustaf Skarsgard) and an American engineer turned refrigerator salesman (Anders Baasmo Christiansen) to embark on the journey with him. The problems with the concept are that only one of the six men has sailing experience, Thor cannot swim and the only modern technology they allow themselves to have is a two-way radio. Thor risks his marriage to Liv (Agnes Kittelsen) by pursuing the adventure and along the way, the six men face many obstacles including sharks, storms and harsh reefs.
The expedition has previously been the subject of a book and an Oscar-winning documentary by Thor himself. But the film is still exciting to watch and will certainly introduce the epic story to new audiences. Thor himself was an intriguing man and the film delves into his obsession quite well. Hagen reminded me of a young Peter O'Toole in this film; it's a strong performance. Unfortunately, the other characters are not developed enough to match Thor. It would have been good to learn more about the other men's backgrounds and what their motivation was. We really only get a small glimpse into that. I had not read Thor's book, but after seeing this film, I was definitely interested in learning more about him and the rest of the crew.