Nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 85th Academy Awards, Kon-Tiki is an epic retelling of Thor Heyerdahl’s 1947 expedition across the Pacific Ocean. Directed by Joachim Roenning and Espen Sandberg, the team behind the World War II epic Max Manus, the film chronicles, with breathtaking visuals, Heyerdahl’s bold journey from Peru to Polynesia.
A risk-taker since childhood, Heyerdahl (Pål Sverre Hagen; Max Manus) is one of the last examples of the scientist as adventurer. Unable to find a publisher to print his thesis that the settlers of Polynesia could have arrived from South America rather than from Asia as commonly believed, he hatches a plan to cross the Pacific on raft, just like the ancient Incas before him. Undeterred by the obstacles he encounters—ridicule at his outlandish hypothesis, dire financial straits, and strained family relationships—Heyerdahl assembles an authentic replica of a balsa wood raft along with a motley crew to join him on his journey. The challenges involved in launching the voyage pale in comparison to the harsh conditions they face at sea— violent storms, encounters with sharks and mounting tensions among the crew.
Roenning and Sandberg’s faithful retelling of Heyerdahl’s expedition is by turns exciting, tense, and, ultimately, triumphant. With stunning cinematography of the ocean and all that the expedition encounters within it, Kon-Tiki is an awe-inspiring film of impressive scale that begs to be seen on the big screen. A blockbuster in its home country that was shot simultaneously in Norwegian and English in anticipation of a broad English-language release, it is sure to enthrall audiences and inspire a sense of adventure.