Kon-Tiki (2012 film)

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Kon-Tiki
Kon-tiki 2012 Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Joachim Rønning
Espen Sandberg
Produced by Jeremy Thomas
Aage Aaberge
Written by Petter Skavlan
Consultant:
Allan Scott
Starring Pål Sverre Valheim Hagen
Anders Baasmo Christiansen
Odd-Magnus Williamson
Agnes Kittelsen
Gustaf Skarsgård
Jakob Oftebro
Tobias Santelmann
Music by Johan Söderqvist
Cinematography Geir Hartly Andreassen
Edited by Per-Erik Eriksen
Martin Stoltz
Production
company
Distributed by Norway:
Nordisk Film
United States:
The Weinstein Company
Release dates
  • 24 August 2012 (2012-08-24)
Running time
119 minutes[1] (Norwegian language)
114 minutes[2] (English language)
Country Norway
Denmark
Germany
Sweden
United Kingdom
Language Norwegian
English
French
Swedish
Budget 93 million NOK (~US$15.5 million)[3]
Box office $22,842,887[4]

Kon-Tiki is a 2012 historical drama film directed by Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg about the 1947 Kon-Tiki expedition. The film was mainly shot on the island of Malta. The role of Thor Heyerdahl is played by Pål Sverre Valheim Hagen. The film is an international co-production between Norway, Denmark, Germany, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

It was the highest-grossing film of 2012 in Norway and the country's most expensive production to date.[5] The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film at the 85th Academy Awards.[6] It is Norway's fifth Academy Award nomination.[7] The film was also nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film at the 70th Golden Globe Awards.[8] It is the first time a Norwegian film has been nominated for both an Oscar and a Golden Globe.[9]

Plot[edit]

The film is the dramatized story of Thor Heyerdahl and his Kon-Tiki expedition of 1947.

While the prevailing theories of the time held that Polynesia had been settled by peoples migrating from the west, Heyerdahl, an experimental ethnographer and adventurer, sets out to prove his theory that people from South America settled the islands in pre-Columbian times.

Noting similarities between statues found in South America and the Polynesian Moai, Heyerdahl's theory about the origin of the Polynesian people is bolstered by Polynesian folklore that tells of an ancient tribe called the Hanau epe that are said to have once inhabited Easter Island. While most experts hold that such a voyage across the vast ocean is unlikely to have ever been successful, in order to illustrate that there were no technological limitations that would have inhibited the ancient peoples from making the journey, Heyerdahl puts his theory to the test and builds a balsawood raft using the same techniques that would have been utilized 1500 years ago by the indigenous peoples of the region. Though he himself cannot swim or sail, he sets out on the treacherous 4,300 nautical mile-journey across the Pacific from Peru to Polynesia aboard the small raft, along with his crew of five men (and a macaw named Lorita).

During the three months aboard the primitive vessel named after Inca god of Sun and storm, Kon-Tiki, the crew's scientific reenactment of the legendary voyage from the coast of Peru to the Polynesian islands is met with setbacks in the form of storms, sharks, and other perils of the open sea.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Filming[edit]

Principal photography for Kon-Tiki took place in Norway, Malta, Bulgaria, Thailand, Sweden, and the Maldives[10][11] over a period of three and a half months.[12] Against the advice of many, the filmmakers decided to shoot the ocean scenes on the open ocean rather than on a set, insisting that the "unique challenges" they faced from shooting on the ocean actually strengthen the film.[13]

Language[edit]

In an unusual technique, the film was shot simultaneously in both Norwegian and English, with each scene being filmed twice, first in Norwegian and then in English. This resulted in two versions of the film to be released, one primarily for the Norwegian domestic market, the other for an international audience. In a few cases, such as action scenes and computer-generated sequences, they used the same shot, later adding English with dubbing.[14]

Historical accuracy[edit]

Perhaps the most glaring inaccuracy in the film is the obvious absence of indigenous Polynesians. The scenes depicting Heyerdahl's experiences on Fatu Hiva were shot in Thailand with Thai extras who do not resemble native Polynesians at all, and who are shown weaving rattan baskets, with neither the technique or the plant material being native to French Polynesia.[citation needed]

While much of the story is historically accurate, screenwriter Petter Skavlan and director Joachim Rønning both felt the need to make the story more exciting for their two-hour feature film.[15][16]

Some of the alterations from Heyerdahl's book are minor: the ship's parrot is eaten by a shark in the film; its real-life counterpart was simply washed overboard by a large wave.[17] The film shows the crew only getting access to valuable US military equipment once they have arrived in Peru and are building the raft; whereas Heyerdahl arranged for the equipment at a visit to the Pentagon before traveling to Peru.[18]

The film has the crew worrying about getting sucked into "the Galapagos maelstrom," with a book shown that purportedly illustrates the maelstrom. The illustration is actually artist Harry Clarke's 1919 illustration for Edgar Allan Poe's short story, "A Descent Into the Maelström," a fictional account of a whirlpool in Norwegian waters. The description of its roar, which can be heard from nine miles away, is taken directly from Poe's story. Although Heyerdahl did refer to "treacherous eddies" near the Galapagos, his chief worry there was that "strong ocean currents" could sweep the raft back towards Central America.[19]

Most controversial has been the portrait of the raft's second-in-command, Herman Watzinger.[20] Colleagues and relatives say Watzinger in the film is unlike the real-life Watzinger, physically or in his actions. Baasmo Christiansen, the pudgy actor who portrayed Watzinger, acknowledged the physical differences with a smile. "Watzinger was tall, dark, and Norwegian Youth Champion in the 100 meter. He was everything I'm not."[16]

In the film, Watzinger disobeys Heyerdahl's direct order and throws a harpoon at a whale shark under the boat. It was actually Erik Hesselberg who harpooned the whale shark, with the crew cheering him on.[21] The film's Watzinger, worried about the hemp ropes' ability to hold the balsa logs together for the entire voyage, tearfully begs Heyerdahl at sea to add steel cables Watzinger smuggled aboard. Heyerdahl's book contains no such scene. When the scene was described to Watzinger's daughter, she said it never happened. "My father was a stout and confident man, and he never thought that way about the balsa logs and the ropes."[16] Thor Heyerdahl, Jr., who worked with Watzinger, concurred in the criticism of the film's portrayal of Watzinger.[16]

Film critic Andrew Barker commented, "It’s frustratingly ironic that Kon-Tiki’s most outrageously fantastical sequences are completely verifiable, and its most predictable, workaday conflicts are completely made up."[22]

The film focuses on Heyerdahl's theory that Polynesia was first populated with humans from Peru, but it ignores the Norwegian's more ethnocentric speculations that the original Kon-Tiki voyage was undertaken by a race of tall white people with red hair and bearded men. Heyerdahl conjectured that Amer-Indian civilizations like the Aztecs and the Incas only arose with the help of advanced technical knowledge brought by early European voyagers, and that these white people were eventually driven out of Peru and fled westward on rafts.[23]

Release[edit]

The film premiered on 18 August 2012 at the 40th Norwegian International Film Festival in Haugesund.[24] A North American screening took place at the Toronto International Film Festival.[25]

The Weinstein Company acquired the distribution rights for North America and Italy in November 2012.[26]

Box office[edit]

Kon-Tiki opened in Norway on 24 August 2012, setting a weekend national box office record.[27] It became the highest-grossing of 2012 in Norway, earning $14,111,514, and overtaking the film Max Manus: Man of War, also by directors Rønning and Sandberg.[28]

Critical response[edit]

Kon-Tiki opened in the United States on 26 April 2013 in a limited release, and was screened in three cinemas. On 3 May 2013, the film expanded to screen in fifty more cinemas and was a major box office success in its home country, Norway, and has since been gathering critical acclaim internationally.[25]

The Hollywood Reporter '​s Sheri Linden says of Kon-Tiki: "This retelling of a bare-bones enterprise by six men took a crew of hundreds, and the results are nothing if not polished, with handsome period detail and visual effects that are convincing, if sometimes ostentatious. The widescreen lensing (the film was shot mainly in and around Malta) doesn’t overdo the sense of wonder and, with a strong assist from the sound design, conveys the men's vulnerability to the elements."[29]

Andrew Barker of Variety notes that some may take issue with the artistic license the filmmakers took in dramatizing some of the characters and events of the voyage, but describes the film overall as "a visually impeccable, professionally crafted modern vessel that lacks any of the patched-together soul of its subject."[30]

While Michael Nordine of LA Weekly laments that Kon-Tiki "could have used a bit more [shark-attracting] blood in the water", he concedes that the "crystal-clear waves are a sight to behold nevertheless."[31]

Rotten Tomatoes reported that 84% of the critics on the site gave Kon-Tiki a positive review. The site's consensus is: "A well-crafted retelling of an epic true story, Kon-Tiki is a throwback to old-school adventure filmmaking that's exciting and entertaining in spite of its by-the-book plotting."[32] On Metacritic, the film has a 63/100 rating based on 21 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[33]

Accolades[edit]

Award Category Recipient(s) Result
85th Academy Awards[34] Best Foreign Language Film Kon-Tiki Nominated
70th Golden Globe Awards Best Foreign Language Film Kon-Tiki Nominated
40th Norwegian International Film Festival[35] Publikumsprisen (Audience Award) Kon-Tiki Won
17th Satellite Awards[36] Best Foreign Language Film Kon-Tiki Nominated
Best Sound Baard H. Ingebretsen, Tormod Ringes Nominated

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "KON-TIKI [Norwegian language] (15)". British Board of Film Classification. 7 November 2014. Retrieved 7 November 2014. 
  2. ^ "KON-TIKI [English language] (15)". British Board of Film Classification. 7 November 2014. Retrieved 7 November 2014. 
  3. ^ "KON-TIKI – Norges neste Oscarkandidat?". Inmagasinet.no/. 2012. Retrieved 22 August 2012. 
  4. ^ "Kon-Tiki (2013)". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. 9 August 2013. Retrieved 7 November 2014. 
  5. ^ Roxborough, Scott (14 September 2012). "Norway Names 'Kon-Tiki' Oscar Entry". Retrieved 13 January 2013. 
  6. ^ "Oscars: Hollywood announces 85th Academy Award nominations". BBC News. Retrieved 2013-01-10. 
  7. ^ ABC. "Foreign Language Film - KON-TIKI". Retrieved 13 January 2013. 
  8. ^ http://www.deadline.com/2012/12/golden-globe-awards-nominations-2013/
  9. ^ Ryland, Julie (11 January 2013). "Norwegian film "Kon Tiki" nominated for Oscar". The Norway Post. Retrieved 11 January 2013. 
  10. ^ "Ovations greet new ‘Kon-Tiki’ film". Views and News from Norway. 19 August 2012. Retrieved 11 January 2013. 
  11. ^ "IMDb Filming Locations". 
  12. ^ Cooper, Sarah. "It will be the world premiere of the Norwegian film about the real life Pacific expedition of 1947, directed by Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg.". Retrieved 13 January 2013. 
  13. ^ "Trailer & Klipp - Blog 2". Nordisk Film. Retrieved 13 January 2013. 
  14. ^ "Can You Say ‘Do It Again’ in Norwegian?". 14 April 2013. Retrieved 11 November 2013. 
  15. ^ "Filmen er en krenkelse av enkeltpersoner". VG. 21 August 2012. Retrieved 18 June 2013. 
  16. ^ a b c d Furuly, Jan Gunnar (19 August 2012). "Kon-Tiki gir et grovt uriktig bilde av min far". Aftenposten. Retrieved 18 June 2013. 
  17. ^ Heyerdahl, Thor (1950). Kon-Tiki (in English, translated from Norwegian by F.H. Lyon). Chicago: Rand McNally. p. 133. 
  18. ^ Heyerdahl, Thor (1950). Kon-Tiki (in English, translated from Norwegian by F.H. Lyon). Chicago: Rand McNally. pp. 27–30. 
  19. ^ Heyerdahl, Thor (1950). Kon-Tiki (in English, translated from Norwegian by F.H. Lyon). Chicago: Rand McNally. p. 73. 
  20. ^ Oftestad, Eldrid (20 August 2012). "Filmeksperter: Fritt frem for å ta seg friheter". Aftenposten (in Norwegian). Retrieved 19 June 2013. 
  21. ^ Heyerdahl, Thor (1950). Kon-Tiki. Chicagp: Rand McNally. p. 82. 
  22. ^ Barker, Andrew (8 September 2012). "Review: "Kon-Tiki"". Variety. Retrieved 19 June 2013. 
  23. ^ Heyerdahl, Thor (1950). Kon-Tiki. Chicago: Rand McNally. pp. 120–127. 
  24. ^ "Magnificent festival opening with Kon-Tiki". Retrieved 13 January 2013. 
  25. ^ a b Enk, Bryan. "Golden Globes: ‘Kon-Tiki’ emerges as this year’s unknown nominee … and dark horse contender". Yahoo! Movies. Retrieved 13 January 2013. 
  26. ^ "Weinstein Company Acquires Rights To ‘Kon-Tiki’". Deadline.com. 7 November 2012. Retrieved 11 January 2013. 
  27. ^ "Kon-Tiki breaks Norway box office record". The Local. 27 August 2012. Retrieved 11 January 2013. 
  28. ^ "Norway Yearly Box Office". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 11 January 2013. 
  29. ^ Linden, Sheri. "Kon-Tiki: Toronto Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 13 January 2013. 
  30. ^ Barker, Andrew. "Kon-Tiki (Norway)". Toronto Film Fest Reviews. Variety. Retrieved 13 January 2013. 
  31. ^ Nordine, Michael. "Why You Should Check Out Kon-Tiki, Norway's Most Expensive Film Ever". Film. LA Weekly. Retrieved 13 January 2013. 
  32. ^ "Kon-Tiki". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 7 November 2014. 
  33. ^ "Kon-Tiki". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 7 November 2014. 
  34. ^ "The Nominees". Retrieved 13 January 2013. 
  35. ^ "News". The Norwegian International Film Festival. Retrieved 13 January 2013. 
  36. ^ International Press Academy. "2012 Winners". Retrieved 13 January 2013. 

External links[edit]