Saturday, February 9, 2013

Joaquim Ronning & Espen Sandberg's Kon-Tiki - Hopeful Ambitions

Norwegian Thor Heyerdahl had his head in the clouds when he theorized that the Peruvians have crossed the tumultuous oceans to reach Polynesia at the other side of the globe way before Christopher Columbus and other European explorers did. This couldn't be possible because before Columbus, gigantic galleon and navigational ships weren't conceptualized yet. But Heyerdahl insisted that the ancient South Americans succeeded to do so by floating away on a raft made of balsa wood, merely utilizing the stars in the heavens as navigational guide. This would be purely conjecture if kept unproven, right? Even scientific societies thought this was lunacy. National Geographic Society balked at Heyerdahl's lofty ambition. “We don’t fund suicide missions,” they said.

 To prove a point, Heyerdahl organizes his team; gathering a crew of 5, constructs a balsa wood raft aptly named after an Incan sun god called “Kon-Tiki”, begs for donations, then in 1947, he starts sailing the immense, albeit occasionally hostile oceans from Collao, Peru. For 101 days, Heyerdahl sets to arduously sail 8,000 kilometers of the vast waters. Will they succeed? Armed with a journal and a moving camera, Heyerdahl and his crew indeed lived to see the day, with nothing but a parakeet as casualty. What’s better, he was able to document their prodigious voyage. The film eventually won Best Documentary at the Oscars in 1951.

 Man’s unflinching thirst for adventure is on full display in Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg’s compelling “Kon-Tiki”, nominated this year for Oscar’s Best Foreign Language Film, an entry from Norway. Coming close under the heels of Ang Lee’sLife of Pi”, we are once more treated to the immense and enigmatic beauty of the oceans and its rhapsodical and tumultuous power. Heyerdahl also succeeds to prove that the oceans are not barriers of exploration, but avenues of transport, in a time when most of the Earth’s waters were an intimidating conundrum. Like Ang Lee’s gorgeous ouvre, “Kon-Tiki” offers familiar encounters: flying fish, ravenous sharks, blistering sunlight, raging thunderstorms, and encounters with gigantic whale sharks.

Seamlessly told, the film is buoyed by the charismatic performance of (inhale deeply first before reading this aloud) Pal Sverre Valheim Hagen who embraces his character with earnestness. He actually resembles Ryan Gosling: his piercing gaze, particularly. “Kon-Tiki” is Norway’s most expensively produced film and, rightfully, 2012’s highest grossing movie of the country. It earned more than $14 million in domestic ticket sales. It is also the first Norwegian film nominated for both the Oscars and the Golden Globe. 

The film is characterized by a rousing spirit that could provide hopeful inspiration for those who live with lofty dreams. If you don’t have such ambition, then this flick can, at the very least, guarantee a huge smile once the credits start rolling.

This is one of Blush's highly recommended movies.

Thor Heyerdahl

In 1951, Heyerdahl's documentary about his 1947 voyage won Best Documentary at the Oscars.

Pal Sverre Valheim Hagen
Norwegian actor Pal Sverre Valheim Hagen and Hollywood A-Lister Ryan Gosling (above) might as well be brothers.

Jakob Oftebro plays Torstein Raaby

French Polynesia

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