Monday, May 20, 2013

"Kon-Tiki": Thor is rather like Pi, with a dream but no tiger

The spectacular Norwegian film, "Kon-Tiki", by Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg, made the Oscar finals for best foreign language film, but the cut I saw tonight at the AMC Shirlington in Arlington was in English.  I don’t know if it was dubbed. 
The film is a fairly straightforward history of the raft voyage of Thor Heyerdal (Pal Sverre-Hagen) from Peru to Polynesia in 1947, proving that South American natives could have settled Oceana a thousand years before, in pre-Inca (perhaps Tiahuanaco) times.  Perhaps the story has some relevance to Van Daniken and “Chariots of the Gods”. 
Thor enlists some of his friends (one is a refrigerator salesman), who have to get along almost like a military unit in the close quarters of the primitive raft.  Thor won’t even let the men cheat on technology.
The film has a number of exciting episodes, involving battling sharks and sea rescues.  There is a lovable hermit crab, and a parrot, both characters on board.  But nature gets cruel in some scenes.  There are some night effects with luminescent fish.
The film may sound like an echo of “The Life of Pi”, but it seems more mellow, and less compelling.  That is not to deny Thor’s contributions, which even added to the spirit of the space program for men with “The Right Stuff”.   

The script has a description of drowning that recalls a similar passage in Sebastian Junger's "The Perfect Storm" (a movie in 2000).
The film ends with some black-and-white footage from the 1951 documentary. Kon-Tiki":  
The film is distributed in the US by the Weinstein Company, with Norwegian site here
This film was just a little bit soft-spoken.   It was shot 2.35:1, no 3D;  “Pi” was shot in regular aspect ratio, but with 3D.  “Kon-Tiki” was indeed bit, with shooting locations in Malta, Maldives, Thailand, Norway, Sweden, and Bulgaria.  

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