Heyerdahl, as played by Pål Hagen, is a single-minded explorer and scientist who falls in love with Polynesia, and becomes convinced that it was discovered by South Americans who sailed there on the currents, following the sun. There’s just one problem: no one in the scientific community believes him. Undaunted, he gathers a disparate group to join him and sets sail from Peru, recreating the voyage of the sun god Tiki, on a raft built just like the one used 1,500 years ago.
Not every crew member is experienced, and the radio refuses to work; one conflict builds on another. The sailors put their faith in Heyerdahl’s belief that no steering will be necessary to reach their destination. They also pray that they won’t be eaten by sharks along the way.
But all that really matters is the finished product. Kon-Tiki is a robust adventure yarn and a highly entertaining film.
Incidentally, Thor Heyerdahl’s grandson built a replica raft and made the journey from Peru to Polynesia in 2006: that’s the vessel the filmmakers used for their movie. It also carried them to their world premiere at the new waterside Opera House in Oslo…and the recent debut in Manhattan.