Kon Tiki is a film I will admit I checked out pretty much solely because its directors (and don’t think I didn’t cut and paste this), Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg, have been tapped by Disney to helm Pirates of the Caribbean 5 (aka Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales). After seeing Kon Tiki, I’m excited for that film. If they can get a script, the prospect of seeing what these gentlemen can do with the franchise is something to anticipate.Kon Tiki, based on the book and real-life adventure of Thor Heyerdahl, is a film you should see regardless. Heyerdahl is one of the great explorers of modern times and though his book has sold 50 million copies, I don’t know that the average person is aware of his achievements.
Heyerdahl was a scientist in Polynesia in the 1930’s when it was accepted scientific fact that the islands had been settled from the east (Asia). Heyerdahl examined insects and plants that were supposedly only indigenous to South America and extrapolated from that the islands had been reached by the ancient Incan Empire and settled by them as local legend told. No one would publish his theory, pointing out that the only tools and supplies available to the Incans would have been little more than wood and rope. At best, skeptics said, they could have put together a raft. So that’s what Heyerdahl did. He and a group of dedicated crewmen built a balsa log raft lashed together with rope and steered by an oar and a cloth sail only. Heyerdahl’s theory depended entirely on the ancients knowing the currents as pathways and that they had found the right one that would speed them from Peru to Polynesia (a distance of 4,300 miles; further than journeying from Moscow to Chicago).
There is glorious cinematography in this movie coupled with a unique directorial vision. Simple shots are turned into complex statements. I think of one where the crew of the raft sits together looking at the stars, the camera above, and slowly we pan out until we’re looking down at a tiny Earth. The screenplay is tight and the acting fine, but the story is Heyerdahl’s journey and very little is left to distract from what is rightly the focus of the picture. It’s an incredible story told incredibly well. The film was nominated last year for Best Foreign Film, which is a bit of an Oscar full-circle. Heyerdahl himself won an Oscar in 1951 for the documentary he made from the footage he and the crew shot during the 101 day journey. Netflix has it available for free streaming and this is one definitely worth a look.
- Tiki 101 (apandatikiblog.wordpress.com)
- PIRATES OF CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES May Have Christoph Waltz in Mind for a Villain (collider.com)
- Kon Tiki-DVD Review *** (filmstoconsider.com)