spacetime coordinates: 1947 journey by raft across the Pacific Ocean from South America to the Polynesian islands
Kon-Tiki (1950 documentary)
Kon-Tiki (2012 film)
Kon-Tiki is a 2012 historical drama film directed by Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg about the 1947 Kon-Tiki expedition. The film was mainly shot on the island of Malta. The role of Thor Heyerdahl is played by Pål Sverre Valheim Hagen. The film is an international co-production between Norway, Denmark, Germany, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. It was the highest-grossing film of 2012 in Norway and the country’s most expensive production to date
While much of the story is historically accurate, screenwriter Petter Skavlan and director Joachim Rønning both felt the need to make the story more exciting for their two-hour feature film. The fictionalized elements have been criticized; as film critic Andrew Barker commented, “It’s frustratingly ironic that Kon-Tiki’s most outrageously fantastical sequences are completely verifiable, and its most predictable, workaday conflicts are completely made up.”
The film focuses on Heyerdahl’s theory that Polynesia was first populated with humans from Peru, but it ignores the Norwegian’s more ethnocentric speculations that the original Kon-Tiki voyage was undertaken by a race of tall white bearded people with red hair. Heyerdahl conjectured that Amerindian civilizations like the Aztecs and the Incas only arose with the help of advanced technical knowledge brought by early European voyagers, and that these white people were eventually driven out of Peru and fled westward on rafts.
The portrayal of the raft’s second-in-command, Herman Watzinger, proved controversial in Norway. Colleagues and relatives say Watzinger in the film is unlike the real-life Watzinger, physically or in his actions. Actor Baasmo Christiansen acknowledged the physical differences with a smile. “Watzinger was tall, dark, and Norwegian Youth Champion in the 100 meter. He was everything I’m not.” In the film, Watzinger disobeys Heyerdahl’s direct order and throws a harpoon at a whale shark under the boat, but it was actually Erik Hesselberg who harpooned the whale shark, with the crew cheering him on. The film’s Watzinger, worried about the hemp ropes’ ability to hold the balsa logs together for the entire voyage, tearfully begs Heyerdahl at sea to add steel cables Watzinger smuggled aboard but Heyerdahl’s book contains no such scene and Watzinger’s daughter has stated it never happened: “My father was a stout and confident man, and he never thought that way about the balsa logs and the ropes.” Thor Heyerdahl, Jr., who worked with Watzinger, concurred in the criticism of the film’s portrayal of Watzinger.