Sunday, May 19, 2013


Finally, a movie based on the documentary based on the book based on the adventure of Kon-Tiki! You've been waiting your whole life for this!

Maybe not. But it is fun.

Back in the '40s, wacky Norwegian ethnologists Thor Heyerdahl decided to prove his theory that pre-Columbian Incans crossed the ocean to settle in Polynesia by drifting on a wooden raft from Peru to the Tumatou Islands.

The poster shows a picture of the raft with a picture of Pal Sverre Hagen (who plays Thor) and Agnes Kittelsen (who plays his wife) smooching over it, like she's there with him on the raft. The trailers are edited to make it look like she's there, too.

She's not. It's a total sausage-fest. Though Thor's wife Liv is apparently with him on early adventures, by the time the Kon-Tiki adventure rolls around, they have two kids, and he's tramping around NYC looking to get backing for his theories while she's stuck in Norway raising their two boys and worrying he's gonna get himself killed.

It's a fun adventure flick, very pure, like a throwback to the '50s. Thor is religiously devoted to his idea, which every other scientific mind in the world disagrees with, even when there are sharks and killer whales and the raft is rotting and the all-pre-Columbian twine is starting to unravel, etc. etc. etc.

Oh, and the storms and the deadly reefs and giant waves and so on.

Apart from Thor and the nebbishy Herman Watzinger, portrayed here as a faint-hearted soul who undermines the reason for the trip on a number of occasions, the other characters didn't really stand out for me. That might've also been because, you know, Scandi: They all look alike.

Like I said, fun. Oscar-nominated, much like the other raft-based entertainment this year, Life of Pi. Without any complex or pseudo-complex religious or philosophical overtones.

From a theoretical standpoint, I remain dubious about the science of the project. Just because you make your raft out of the materials (you think) pre-Columbians had—and God bless you for believing primitive cultures could undertake stuff that took more "advanced" cultures centuries longer—you don't really know what technology they had. If they were making trips like this, they were probably far better sailors, fishers, and they might have even had ways of, oh, I don't know, water-proofing the logs for their rafts.

There's something to be said for showing that a bunch of amateurs, essentially, could make the trip, of course. It's certainly not impossible.

But on the other side, your point is that the currents flow from South America to the South Pacific, ergo perhaps migration went that way? Possible, sure, but the South Pacific peoples might have been very skilled sailors what with living on a bunch of islands who could work the currents going both ways.

Anyway: We liked it. Some beautiful cinematography. The acting worked for us. (You never know with subtitles, if the actors are really badly misemphasizing their words, right?) I've heard the script is actually very unnatural, dialogue-wise, but subtitles save the day for foreigners. Two hour flick, but it flies by briskly.

If you don't like subtitles, the dubbed version of this would probably be fine. It's not really about the dialogue.

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