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Kon-Tiki

In 1947, the young ethnographer and adventurer Thor Heyerdrahl (Pål Sverre) decides to take a risk. He was determined to prove that the Polynesian Islands were found and populated from South America and not from Asia as most anthropologists and experts claimed. He, along with four other men, constructed a primitive wood raft modeled on those of Pre-Columbian times. His theory was developed while he and his wife were living and studying on the islands. Despite his thesis work, no one took him seriously, but determined he was. So with a lot of private funding and a bit of help from the U.S. navel services and the Peruvian government, he finally set sail.

The adventure covers 4,300 nautical miles where the hardships include each passenger dealing with his own person psychological demons. I especially appreciated that the directors included a nice portrait of his wife who suffered deeply from his selfish decision without asking her opinion. I was very excited to watch this film since it is a story that captivated my parents as I was growing up. This Kon-Tiki thing got under their skin just enough to cause our family to take a journey to the Polynesian Islands in the 1970s and then to Oslo, Norway, to see the Kon-Tiki Museum. I still remember my mother finally losing her cool at the museum where my father just wanted to study the information once more. I sometime wonder if my father could somehow relate to Thor Heyerdrahl’s vision but lacked that naïve stubbornness which was so strongly rooted in his character; exactly those characteristics which gave him the strength to set out on such a voyage. What is also amazing is that the original documentary of this voyage won an Oscar in 1951, and now this year this film was nominated for best foreign film. (Shelly Schoeneshoefer)

 

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