In 1947, Norwegian native, ethnographer and scientist Thor Heyerdahl had a theory that Western migrants were settling in South American during the pre-Columbian era. In a bid to prove his theory, Heyerdahl embarked on an ambitious and life changing journey that would alter Norwegian history forever.
Heyerdahl, and his crew members Erik Hesselberg, Bengt Danielsson, Knut Haugland, Torstein Raaby and Herman Watzinger, manufactured a manmade raft known as the Kon-Tiki; named after the Inca sun god, Virachocha. On April 28 1947, Heyerdahl led the way as they departed on the seas of the Pacific Ocean from South America in a quest to reach the Polynesian Islands in 100 days. Throughout the journey, the crew – made up of navigators, transmission experts and engineers – rafted 4,300 miles, escaped a near-fatal shark attack and last 101 days arriving at the Tuamotu Islands on August 7, 1947. Heyerdahl’s expedition marked Norwegian history and his legacy has now been depicted on the silver screen in a contemporary biopic drama.
Nordic actor Pål Sverre Hagen portrays the renowned adventurist in this notable adventure directed by filmmaking duo Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg. Kon-Tiki explores Thor Heyerdahl’s revolutionary expedition as well as his personal and professional life before receiving fame for his literary and ethnographic works. The film was originally released outside of the UK in 2012 to critical praise and was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2013 Academy Awards.
This is not the first Kon-Tiki film to walk the red carpet as Heyerdahl’s documentary, also titled Kon-Tiki - which he wrote, directed and produced himself – won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 1951; the only film in Norwegian history to claim an Oscar.
Thor Heyerdahl is a cultural and historical icon in Scandinavian society. His 1948 novel Kon-Tiki: Across the Pacific in a Raft sold more than 50million copies worldwide and his raft lies on display in the Kon-Tiki Museum in Bygdøy, Norway.
Kon-Tiki is a unique motion picture in a variety of ways but its most primitive being one of the first Scandinavian dramas to be filmed in both Norwegian and English dialect. It is definitely not to be missed.
Kon-Tiki is released in UK cinemas Friday 19th December, 2014.