Kon-Tiki recounts the monumentally brave attempt by Thor Heyerdahl (Pal Sverre Hagen) to prove that the South Americans could have theoretically crossed the Pacific Ocean 1500 years ago and settled on the Polynesian Islands, which was contrary to popular belief at the time. Thor realized that the only way he could convince anyone of his theory, was by making the trip himself. So Thor assembled a five man crew, built a raft and set out for an arduous journey that would take over 3 months to complete and over 8,000 kilometers to float across.
Kon-Tiki documents Thor's many troubles getting this suicidal mission of his financed, preparation for the journey and the journey itself. Thor is determined to make the trip using nothing more than what they would have had access to back then, well, that's not exactly true. Certain events were fictional or dramatized, Herman Watzinger (Anders Baasmo Christiansen) was a largely fictional character that was created for drama, the sharks were not great whites and they happily killed as many of them as they could, not because they felt particularly threatened by them. In the movie, they're shown as being highly reluctant to kill the whale shark and only did so because they perceived it as being a threat to them, yet the actual footage from the trek shows them going out of their way to kill the whale shark, with great delight. Not that I care either way, but they obviously wanted this movie to be as realistic as possible, only to shy away from all the controversial aspects of it.
Details aside, Kon-Tiki is still a beautifully shot and superbly crafted movie that perfectly captures the essence that drives people to take on these precarious risks and embark on dangerous explorations, and the resolution, the drive and the indomitable human spirit sublimely. The cinematography compliments the breath-taking landscapes superlatively, on an aesthetic level alone Kon-Tiki is an awe-inspiring movie.
Several times I found myself enchanted with the simple beauty that was on film, it was wonderfully shot. The ocean is a marvel in and of itself and the special effects that went into some of the more dangerous and exciting moments were impeccable. The acting was good most of the time, but was a little thin as the way the movie played out. It was predictable, even with the screenwriters changing certain things to make the trip more exciting, it still felt somewhat pedestrian, but never boring, if that makes sense.
The historical inaccuracies are there, and they also had access to several tools that a people from 1500 years ago wouldn't have had, not to mention all the knowledge they possessed. Could a people from 1500 years ago build a raft as sturdy as the one that an engineer helped them build? I have my doubts. Thor didn't really prove anything, only that it was possible, but not plausible. Most recent evidence seems to suggest that his hypothesis is indeed incorrect, but don't let that deter you from seeing it. Kon-Tiki is still a staggeringly beautiful and inspiring movie, regardless of the facts surrounding it.
Written by - The Sentry - 06/04/2015