Kon-Tiki, the movie

Kon-TikiThe iconic picture from the Kon-Tiki expedition led by Norwegian Antrrophologist Thor Heyerdal. Photo: Public Domain

Kon-Tiki, a movie about Thor Heyerdahl’s epic journey

Thor Heyerdahl was a Norwegian adventurer. He became famous for his Kon-Tiki expedition in 1947. The story of the legendary voyage-maker, Thor Heyerdahl, who travelled 4300 miles on the ocean in 1947 to prove that South American residents were able to migrate to Polynesia. In this article I am reviewing the Kon-Tiki movie. The movie is produced by Harald Zwart and directed by Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg. It was released in 2012. Don’t skip this article if you’re interested in the adventure movie genre!

Thor Heyerdahl wished to prove his theory that it was Peruvians who were the first to discover the Polynesian Islands. This, he believed, they achieved by sailing several thousands of miles across the ocean, by means of a simple balsa-wood boat. He had to rely on a number of his friends to take on the perilous trek across the ocean – armed with primitive devices only – without the use of any advanced technology.

Overall criticism of the film

The film does not convey anything new and special to the viewer. We’re going to witness a cruise and some people. On the one hand, we have to see the dangers that these sailors face, and on the other, the conflicts that occur between the participants themselves. In both cases, the film is not overly exciting.

Kon-TikiFirst, I felt that the storytellers should be confronted with more dangerous and exciting events that, factually, fizzled out without happening. That is to say, except for a few small shark battles and a few minutes of not-so-scary storms, we see nothing about this group’s battle with nature.

One of the first rules of the adventure genre is that we have to see the fascinating moments when people struggle with nature to overcome a potentially lethal situation. The filmmakers haven’t, however, paid much heed to that.

The bigger and more important problem is, however, that storytellers never become neither multidimensional, personal, or at the very least, empathetic. Even worse, Thor, as the central character, has zero appeal. The companions are very one-dimensional: one is a camera expert, no more no less. Another one is a run-of-the-mill coward, who causes the sharks to attack.

We only see one not-so-important aspects of these people and, in the end, they neither change nor does anything happen to them. As mentioned, the worst thing is that Thor, as the pivot of the story, doesn’t make much of a difference. We know nothing more about him at the end of the story than at the beginning.

For example, we know from the beginning that he cannot swim, and he cannot at the end, either. Not being able to swim does not pose a big problem in the film, so why the emphasis? From the start, we see him as a “real” man: very resolute, good-natured and attractive, but in the middle of the vastness of the ocean, he breaks down momentarily and apologizes for not being able to jump into the water to save his friend. He reiterates that he doesn’t know how to swim. His friend laconically states that that it is no problem “because we all know that you do not know how to swim!”

In short, not only do we, as the spectators, not come to a new understanding of the persons, they do not discover any new aspects of each other, either.

However, the message of the movie is very clear: when we believe in something, we will succeed. At one point, in the middle of the trip, a friend of Thor, frightened by the obstacles, in response to Heyerdal saying “We are going to do what the tribes did 1.500 years ago – believing in their god.” It is this belief that brings them to a happy ending of this dangerous journey.



Facts about the Kon-Tiki movie

  • Year of production: 2012
  • 1st Director: Joachim Rønning
  • 2nd Director: Espen Sandberg
  • Producer: Harald Zwart
  • Script writer: Petter Skavlan
  • Budget: $ 16,600,000
  • Release Date: 2013-03-21
  • Contributing countries: England, Norway, Denmark, Germany, Sweden
  • Languages: Norwegian, English, French, Swedish




This article is written by our contributor, Ali Ashrafi, to be shared with the esteemed readers of Norway Today.

© Ali Ashrafi / #Norway Today
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