Kon-Tiki, the Inca god of Sun and storm, was the name of the balsa-wood raft used by Norwegian explorer and writer Thor Heyerdahl. The primitive vessel was instrumental in his 1947 expedition across the Pacific Ocean from South America to the Polynesian islands. The purpose was to show that the South American people could have settled Polynesia in the pre-Columbian era using only the simple materials and technologies available to them at the time. I kept thinking that just because they could doesn’t necessarily mean they did but that’s never addressed. Incidentally most anthropologists now believe they did not but that‘s another discussion entirely. There’s no denying that Heyerdahl was a brave and admirable trailblazer who basically just wanted to prove that you couldn’t rule the possibility out. Their mission was presented in a non fictional account in 1950 that actually won the Academy Awards for Best Documentary Feature the following year. Now it’s been made into a historical drama, which was subsequently nominated for Best Foreign Language Film (Amour received the award).
Kon-Tiki is a pleasant but very conventional movie. The plot is mostly made of the 4,300 nautical mile-journey from Peru to Polynesia aboard a flimsy raft. Heyerdahl is a tall blonde tanned Norwegian. His staff is also made up of the same, well four Norwegians and a Swede, but they all posses the same handsomely pale features, indistinguishable from each other. These characters are really generic. That even includes the intrepid star who should’ve been more exciting. Over three months, the team’s scientific voyage is met with a few small setbacks but it’s largely uneventful. Oh there’s storms, a shark gets on the boat, a whale almost topples the raft. Those developments are gripping so those moments engage. The cinematography is pretty too. But more often than not, the action focuses on the humans. Unfortunately their humdrum conversations are boring. The occasional infighting amongst the team does not a film make.