Kon-Tiki is a man-against-nature, dramatization of the famed Kon-Tiki voyage from the directing team of Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg and screenwriters Petter Skavlan and Allan Scott. It is a beautifully shot and enjoyable film.
The film centers on the award-winning documented story of Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl (Pål Sverre Hagen) crossing the Pacific Ocean in a balsa wood raft in 1947. He travels together with refrigerator salesman/ raft designer ( Baasmo Christiansen), childhood friend Erik (Odd-Magnus Williamson), military veteran Knut (Tobias Santelmann), radio operator Jakob (Torstein Raaby), and documentarian (Gustaf Skarsgard). Their goal is to prove that the Polynesian islands were visited first by people of Peru and South America. After struggling to finance the voyage, they finally embark on an epic 101 daylong 5000-mile journey.
Pål Sverre Hagen as Thor Heyerdahl delivers an excellent rendition of a great leader and scientist that sets out on a dangerous journey that inspired generations of explorers. He does a particularly nice job of portraying this man with the courage to accomplish his dreams, especially during an inspiring scene revolving around shark-infested waters. Sverre’s delivery is complemented nicely by Baasmo Christiansen’s performance as the nervous raft designer. Christiansen does a great job of spotlighting the daringness and intensity of their journey as we see the raft becoming waterlogged and coming under threat of large fish and storms.
The direction of the piece is very meaningful and illustrates the famous tale in an almost case study like fashion of these 6 brave men who have left their families to further the progress of science. One of the best parts of the film is the awe-inspiring cinematography, editing, props, set, and wardrobe. The visuals in the film instill a feeling of adventure and exploration through the use of high saturated and eye-catching colors and natural warm light. The editing of the piece helps bring life to the voyage. Shots of rotting wood, ominous figures, storm clouds, waves, and eerie underwater stalker-esque shots add to the foreboding feeling of doom throughout the piece. The music is very orchestral with lots of swelling strings and fits in nicely with the larger than life essence of movie.
The cinematography is aided by the excellent use of props and elegant wardrobe choices from the 1940s. The shots of the star gazing faces of the sun burnt crew into the clouds, stars, galaxies, and back, encompasses the feeling of man amidst the beauty of Mother Nature. The budget of the film clearly makes great use of color, texture, and lighting. It brings an authenticity as you view a hand made raft with a large sail riding through a vast ocean filled with exotic fish, sharks, sunsets, and a dazzling night sky.
The story as a whole is based on true events and has many situations that bring dramatic tension. If this were a total work of fiction it could stand to be given a few more dramatic elements, as the real life exploration never became too extreme. It follows a standard narrative style and makes for an entertaining tale of exploration for those that don’t need tons of action to feel adventurous. Kon-Tiki is a great film with beautiful visuals that help make up for its slow narrative structure. The film is ultimately a tale of the persistence of man and true explorers taking on daring deeds.
Kon-Tiki – 7.5/10