Thursday, June 13, 2013

Kon-Tiki (Rhoades)

“Kon-Tiki” Sets
Sail at the Tropic

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl believed that it was possible that ancient cultures populated the world by making long sea voyages. To prove his theory, he built a primitive raft and set sail in 1947 on a 4,948-mile journey from Peru to the Tuamotu Islands in the Pacific.
Christened the Kon-Tiki (after the Inca god of sun and storms), this pae-pae raft was constructed of balsa wood and other native materials. Its design was based on old drawings of Inca boats.
Heyerdahl and his five crewmen (plus a macaw named Lorita) made the journey in 101 days. The expedition demonstrated that pre-Columbian contact between South America and Polynesia was indeed possible.
Afraid of water since childhood, Heyerdahl faced many near-death experiences -- including smashing up his raft on the reef that surrounds the Tuamotu Islands and nearly drowning.
This is the stuff that spawns great adventure stories.
And write about it Thor Heyerdahl did, in “The Kon-Tiki Expedition: By Raft Across the South Seas.” A documentary film of the expedition, titled “Kon-Tiki,” won an Academy Award in 1951.
Now we have a new film, a dramatization of Heyerdahl’s great sea voyage -- also called “Kon-Tiki.” It was nominated for an Oscar as Best Foreign Language Film at the 85th Academy Awards.
“Kon-Tiki” is currently sailing across the screens at the Tropic Cinema.
Norwegian actor Pål Sverre Valheim Hagen (“Max Manus: Man of War”) stars as Heyerdahl. A Ryan Gosling lookalike, he says he was impressed with Heyerdahl’s complex personality. “He was a believer,” says Hagen. “He believed so strongly that he would actually go out into the world and do the thing he believed in.”
Like sailing nearly halfway across the Pacific in a flimsy raft.
Directors Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg decided to shoot the ocean scenes on the open sea rather than on a set. The Hollywood Reporter noted the irony when it wrote, “This retelling of a bare-bones enterprise by six men took a crew of hundreds…” But it admitted, “the results are nothing if not polished, with handsome period detail and visual effects that are convincing, if sometimes ostentatious.”
Some film critics have complained “Kon-Tiki” could have used “a bit more (shark-attracting) blood in the water” and groused about its “by-the-book plotting.” Varity, on the other hand, observed that “some may take issue with the artistic license the filmmakers took in dramatizing some of the characters and events of the voyage.”
Can’t have it both ways.
We think Rønning and Sandberg struck a good balance, delivering a visually beautiful retelling of this epic adventure. Others agree. It won the audience award at the 45th Norwegian International Film Festival.
Having proved their mettle on the high seas, Rønning and Sandberg are scheduled to direct the fifth installment of “Pirates of the Caribbean,” the blockbuster franchise starring Johnny Depp as the rapscallion Captain Jack Sparrow.
As for Thor Heyerdahl’s scientific experiment, he felt his expedition helped prove that Polynesia was settled from South America. But even today most archeologists still insist that the migration went from west to east.

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