11/05/12 - Egyptian, 7:15 p.m.
11/06/12 - Grauman’s Chinese, 4:00 p.m.
By Andrew Johnson
It’s been three weeks since Felix Baumgartner stepped off a capsule 24 miles above the earth and three months since NASA successfully shot a car-sized rover onto the surface of Mars. The desire to break boundaries and explore new territory is a fundamental characteristic of humanity, which is perhaps why there’s been little display of nationalism in the aftermath — there’s a sense that when one of us attempts the seemingly impossible, we’re all in it together regardless of race, nation or creed.
KON-TIKI is based on the real-life story of another odds-defying pioneer, Norwegian anthropologist Thor Heyerdahl, who sailed 4,300 miles across the Pacific in 1947 on a raft made of balsa wood. He hoped to prove that the Polynesian islands had originally been settled by people from South America rather than Southeast Asia, a theory that remains disputed despite his successful journey. Filmmakers Joachim Roenning and Espen Sandberg (MAX MANUS: MAN OF WAR) have now fashioned the trip into a narrative feature film, and the result is a rousing and provocative tale of survival and human achievement.
At first glance, it’s easy to imagine that KON-TIKI is Norway’s submission to the Oscars® simply because it contains so many elements Academy voters tend to reward — it’s a period piece about good-looking actors getting really dirty as they overcome nearly impossible odds. The marketing campaign might very well bill it as an “inspirational true story” about the “triumph of the human spirit” or something similarly clichéd. What makes the film so impressive is that while it is indeed both those things, it’s also much more than typical feel-good fluff. It would be easy to interpret Heyerdahl’s journey only as survivalist epic, the story of a few men versus the elements, but Roenning and Sandberg use that as a launching point to ask more complicated questions.