I originally posted this review back in April 2013 when we got it here in Australia, it was even on our old site, have spruced it up a bit to match the new format of Salty so no judging the writing from over a year ago, I always cringe reading my old stuff 🙂 I loved KON TIKI – it made one of my top films of 2013 and I keep meaning to buy it on Blu Ray, it is just stunning. It released today in the UK and peeps of the UK – you are in for a treat, do yourself a favour and watch it stat! Enjoy my review……..JK 


Review by Jason King

The Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl crossed the Pacific ocean in a balsa wood raft in 1947, together with five men, to prove that South Americans already back in pre-Columbian times could have crossed the sea and settled on the Polynesian islands. After financing the trips with loans and donations they set off on an epic 101 days long trip across 8000 kilometers, while the world was waiting for the result of the trip. The film tells about the origin of the idea, the preparations and the events on the trip. Kon-Tiki was named after the Inca sun god, Viracocha, and “Kon-Tiki” is an old name for this god. Heyerdahl filmed the expedition, which later became the Academy award winning documentary in 1951, and wrote a book about the expedition which was translated into 70 languages and sold more than 50 millions copies around the world. Heyerdahl believed that people from South America could have settled Polynesia in pre-Columbian times, although most anthropologists now believe they did not. Anyway he proved it was possible, by using only the materials and technologies available to those people at the time. The trip took 101 days over 4,300 miles across the Pacific Ocean before Kon-Tiki crashed into the dangerous reefs outside Raroia in the Tuamotu Islands on August 7th 1947. They all succeeded, and Kon-tiki was brought back to Norway and is now featured in the Kon-Tiki museum.




The original documentary won the Oscar back in 1951 and this film was the official submission of Norway to the Best Foreign Language Film of the 85th Academy Awards in 2013. I honestly believe it should have won – what an epic film Spielberg would LOVE. This film, while Norwegian, is pure Hollywood at its core. It is heroic, it has values, it is explosively visual, it is about adversity and survival and success, what more would Hollywood ask for in a film?

The film’s producer, Jeremy Thomas, had wanted to make the film since 1996 and was granted the rights to the story by Thor Heyerdahl before his death in 2002. Large parts of the film were filmed in two versions at the same time, one in Norwegian, the other in English, in order to secure international funding. And what a coup for the directors Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg, this film would have required a pretty huge budget to bring this stunning and ambitious tale to life. My jaw was on the ground most of the time, the attention to detail, accuracy, and cinematography in this film are just perfect.




I am astounded this film is only getting an art house release in Australia, it should be in the biggest houses in the commercial cinemas so the pounding sound systems and mammoth screens can do the film the presentation it deserves. The visuals on the water in this film are up there and on par with Ang Lee’s LIFE OF PI – which will be in my top 10 films of the year for sure. The cinematography of Geir Hartly Andreassen was spectacular to be able to capture so much visually on such a restricted area and to bring the beauty of the Pacific to life that he deserved an Oscar, I do not know any of his previous work as it is all Norwegian but he now has a name and is the cinematographer for the upcoming Mortal Instruments so gratz to him!

The acting is admirable and the actors are all so similar but all so different. The bleach blonde, perfectly straight haired Aryan race looks of the cast, especially the lead actor, Paal Sverre Hagen and incredibly gorgeous Jakob Oftebro really do glow off the screen with bright blue Pacific blue backgrounds. They are all so perfect I was disappointed when they started looking like Tom Hanks in Castaway. The cast is a brilliant team of people that all manage to represent the many emotions and fears faced on the journey.




I mean, what drives someone to do this? Where does this need for extreme adversity and adventure come from, I just do not have the gene, I mean, I am waling the Camino next year by myself and this is a HUGE adventure, but one that about a billion people have done before me. I could never sail solo around the world, it is not the isolation that ever worries me, it is the fear of dying alone, of not being good enough, and I suppose this is my failure, I do not want to be tested in this version of life and death but the adventurer must and Thor Heyerdahl is just that kind of man, so stubborn he would die to prove his point. The thing that completely blew my mind about Thor, he couldn’t even swim and he spent all his adventuring on the Pacific in situations where a few lessons in remaining afloat would have been quite handy 🙂 Paal Sverre Hagen captured Thor to a T, he is so determined and stubborn he was willing to gamble everything, including all the crew to prove his point, slightly crazy as it was. It would be like me jumping into Bass Straight on a lilo assuming that I would end up in Tasmania – yeah me no think so. But he did it and proved the world wrong, even though history now reflects differently he proved it was possible. Anders Baasmo Christiansen as Herman was also perfectly cast, he is clumsy and the complete opposite of everyone on board and brings the fear, the devil’s advocate and the logic to all the matters and balances the insanity with sanity.




The other cast member, and highlight of the film, is the Pacific and its many wonders and creatures. The film shows the Pacific as ying and yang, it is the most beautiful place on the planet and captured so beautifully on film but on the the flip of a coin it becomes the most deadly place on Earth. From crystal clear still waters to raging storms and death at every wave. From beautiful whale sharks and flying fish to some of the coolest shark effects on film. I was literally on the edge of my seat with my feet tucked under my knees (and safely out of the “water”) and squealing in the shark scenes – I could have been heard saying things like “get out of there!!!!!!”

This film has it all. Beauty in the ocean (and in the cast), adventure, abundant action, adversity, survival, teamwork, sharks, whales, a David and Goliath story, a story of craziness and determination – it is pure win win for me and I cannot recommend a better film for the month of April (yet). Do yourself a favor and put up with some sub titles to see a truly inspiring film, and best of all, it’s also a history lesson. LOVE IT.


4 and a Half Pops