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Review and Trailer for Oscar-Nominated 'Kon-Tiki' - An Enjoyable, Supersized High-Seas Adventure

by Beth Hanna
April 25, 2013 12:46 PM
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Animal rights sensitivity was not a major concern in the late 1940s, and the joyous volition with which the men gut the enemy shark reminded me of a similar scene in a film made in 1956 by Jacques Cousteau and Louis Malle, “The Silent World.” As in that French docudrama, “Kon-Tiki” reveres, respects and revels in wonder at the ocean, but also takes offense to it when the watery depths commit a seeming injustice. It may be the one aspect of “Kon-Tiki” that feels authentically old-fashioned.

Hagen is a genial leading man, with a Ryan Gosling-meets-Peter O’Toole look. He keeps the character charming and adequately absorbing, without really digging into the inner recesses of a mind obsessed by what was arguably a suicide expedition. His eyes sparkle appropriately when he speaks of the Inca sun god who inspires the mission, but he doesn’t tap the underlying insanity needed for such a role: see Gregory Peck’s Captain Ahab or Klaus Kinski’s Aguirre.

No matter.  “Kon-Tiki” aims for dazzling breadth and visual scope, which it achieves, and shoots for depth primarily when filming in the 15-thousand-foot waters the men precariously float upon. What it lacks in character complexity and narrative nuance, it compensates for with booms and thunders of seabound gravitas. Huston, Herzog and even Cousteau and Malle deliver adventures that unsettle us as we watch in awe; "Kon-Tiki" co-directors Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg entertain us as we reach for popcorn.

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More: Reviews, AFI, Kon-Tiki, Reviews


  • P. Monger | December 28, 2012 5:44 AMReply

    NOW IT CAN BE TOLD! P. Monger was a young (13 years) stowaway on that raft. It was an AWESOME ride!

  • SKull | December 15, 2012 8:02 AMReply

    Just a small note on the peculiar nature of cultural Norwegian explorer psychology since Nansen crossed Greenland on skis in the 19th century. As a young nation Norway tried early to define itself and its culture through literature (Kielland, Ibsen, Bjørnson, Hamsun) and arctic exploration (Nansen, Amundsen). This was all very manly and inspirational of course, and to this day complaining about physical pain while walking in the woods and mountains, or for that matter walking to the North Pole on skis, is somewhat of a taboo,which Norwegians go to great lengths not to be caught doing.
    My point is that this was no suicide mission unless Norway was on a collective suicide mission, since this is basically how a lot of people are here even now. Nothing is impossible if you`re a Norwegian with a map. Or so we`re told:)

  • Freya | January 16, 2013 10:26 PM

    "Nothing is impossible if you're a Norwegian with a map."

    I'm totally going to steal that. Brilliant.

  • jer-gup | November 12, 2012 6:19 PMReply

    P.S. Those dudes in the image you included look RIPPED.

  • jer-gup | November 12, 2012 6:17 PMReply

    Ha! Loved this line: "Hagen is a genial leading man, with a Ryan Gosling-meets-Peter O’Toole look." And then I watched the trailer and saw that you nailed it with that description. Excellent review! I feel like going the "Hollywood" route poses a fascinating conundrum: Would we look at the film differently (i.e. "It's cheesy!") if it actually WERE a Hollywood film? Is it given the benefit of the doubt because it's a foreign film? Regardless, it sounds fun to watch, particularly the shark moments. Shame they didn't include any of those in the trailer. You really know your shark films, as you stated, so I trust that this would be a good time in the theaters. And it DOES sound like a theater/big screen experience. Love that you got a Silent World reference in! Also, the original documentary footage sounds amazing. Anyway, thanks for the really great review.

  • Anne Kressler | November 7, 2012 12:22 AMReply

    Wonderful docudrama. Be sure to see it on a wide screen. Heyerdahl continues to inspire us to dare to stand up for the things we believe - just the kind of hero we need for these days. Thanks to the Norwegians for a riveting film.

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