22 December 2014

Film

Whale shark passing under the raft in a scene from "Kon Tiki"
"Kon Tiki" is a 2012 Norwegian film directed by Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg. It portrays the 1947 voyage of the "Kon Tiki" raft from Peru to the Tuamotu Islands of Polynesia - a journey of over four thousand miles - propelled mostly by the South Equatorial Current. It was all a hare-brained scheme hatched by the explorer, writer and anthropologist Thor Heyerdahl - one of Norway's most famous sons. He was trying to prove that the first settlers to arrive at the scattered islands of Polynesia could have come from South America and not from Asia - which is the source theory that most informed anthropologists subscribe to.
Thor Heyerdahl
(1914 - 2002)

The cast and crew of six Scandinavian men of a similar age and appearance are led by Pål Sverre Valheim Hagen as Thor Heyerdahl, Their voyage includes encounters with sharks, luminous sea creatures, storms and finally a jagged coral reef when they eventually make landfall after a journey of some 4,300 miles. It has been said by other reviewers that it is a story straight from the pages of some "Boy's Own" book of adventures.

In one memorable night scene when the ocean is calm, the crew are lying on deck looking up at the stars and conversing quietly about their place in the universe. The camera is looking down upon them and then, as if lifted by a balloon, the camera viewpoint rises so that the raft become a pinprick of light in the vast ocean. Then that pinprick disappears and the camera is looking out from the edge of the stratosphere upon the very curvature of the earth and the heavens beyond.

As I have said before in this blog, I have been fascinated by all things Pacific most of my life and have read all of Thor Heyerdahl's most well-known books. I have even visited The Kon Tiki Museum in Oslo which is where the famous balsa raft has resided since the nineteen fifties. It is the stuff of dreams even though Heyerdahl's underlying ethnographic theory was arguably quite mad.

"Kon Tiki" was the most watched film in Norway in 2012 and I enjoyed it a great deal - mostly because I knew the story already and simply enjoyed seeing it come alive. How did they capture that scene where a massive whale shark swims under the raft? I shall probably never know.
The real Kon Tiki raft in its museum in Oslo

11 comments:

  1. Those were true adventurers! If the film is as well done as you describe it, I am sure it makes for some really great moments.

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    1. I don't know how many women would find this film appealing. It is certainly not a "romcom".

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  2. It looks a great film.

    Most special effects are now done using compositors in post production. I'd like to see the camera zoom out bit showing the raft and earth getting smaller.

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    1. Adrian - If they had tied you to a large helium balloon I am sure you would have mastered that particular shot. Did your voyages take you across The Pacific?

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    2. No, I have been in the Pacific but only up the American west coast. I never got to see Australia or New Zealand either. Most of my time was spent in the North and South Atlantic; both tend to be cold except the bit in the middle where they join.

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  3. I still have somewhere in this house a hardback copy, complete with somewhat frayed dust cover, of the book Kon Tiki by Thor Heyerdahl.

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    1. Well if you read it years ago Bob, I think that you would also enjoy this film.

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  4. I have an ancient copy of the original 'handprinted' with all the drawings version of Kon Tiki an I by Erik Hesselberg and it is fascinating.

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    1. You are a most fortunate fellow Graham!...And I suspect you will also enjoy this film if it ever comes to "The An Lanntair" in Stornoway.

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  5. I read the Kon Tiki expedition when I was ten or eleven. I've never forgotten it. I will have to see the movie.

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    1. Well then, I am pleased to have alerted you to it Red.

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