“Kon-Tiki” – Review by Laurie Coker

Kon-Tiki Review

by Laurie Coker

My sister lived on a boat of some kind for well over twenty years, more than ten of those she spent with her co-captains sailing or motoring down the Pacific coast, through the Panama Canal at one point — and eventually she ended up in Florida, after longs stints in Mexico, Costa Rica and Central America. I admire this life and the tenacity it takes to live it and remember learning that she had sailed through a hurricane, watching as parts of their boat tore away in high winds and fellow cruisers’ boats succumbed to the terrible storm.  She, my sailing sister, was my guest to the screening of Kon-Tiki, a film based on the true story of Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl. I watched her reaction to the story, which reflected understanding and wonder. Directors Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg give us a tale that inspires awe at its characters’ audacity, perhaps idiocy, and most certainly passion.

Heyerdahl and his five-man crew sought to prove that South Americans, in pre-Columbian times, could have crossed the sea and settled on Polynesian islands, and they managed to cross the Pacific Ocean on a balsa wood raft in 1947, with little support and great determination. My sister and I sat mesmerized as the tale unfolded before us, where man, pitted against nature and skeptics, risked everything to prove everyone, especially historians and fellow scientists, wrong. Their 101-day adventure was recorded by a photographer on board the “Kon Tiki,” and Rønning and Sandberg bring it to us.

Rønning and Sandberg, going from a book penned by Heyerdahl and a script penned by Petter Skavlan and Allan Scott and from archival footage filmed during the journey, have created a riveting tale of perseverance, strength of mind, and survival. Impressively, Kon-Tiki was filmed simultaneously in English and Norwegian, but its best moments are unspoken ones. Emotions are pulled as the men experience amazement and fear as they encounter sea creatures and nature’s impeccable imagery. And the audience is moved to the edge of its seats during  a frightening sequence when a storm rages, nearly tearing the raft apart, and when a shark is pulled on board – vivid and stunning.

Kon-Tiki is a beautifully filmed and impressively acted movie, making the experience FEEL real. While the events took place over sixty years ago, inspiration can be found in Heyerdahl’s resolve and passion. Some saw him as insane for leaving his wife and children and risking his life (and those of others) for such a futile adventure, but such is the plight of men of science, dreamers, and those willing to seek the unknown. So much, even now, is too be discovered in our world, our universe, and our very beings, and scientists with such steadfastness will always be needed. I am placing an A in my grade book.


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