All or Nothing: Kon-Tiki (2012)


Natalia Messmer

Kon-Tiki is based on real events which makes the film even more exciting. The story starts in 1947 when Thor Heyerdahl, Norwegian explorer and writer, decides to prove his theory about South American settlers in Polynesia, by following exactly the same way they took – across the Pacific Ocean on a balsa raft. The whole idea seems dangerous, if not crazy, yet Heyerdahl is not a man who gives up in front of difficulties.

Thor finds five men for his ambitious project – some are his friends (Erik Hesselberg, Knut Haugland and Torstein Raaby) and some are simply fascinated by what he wants to do (Bengt Danielsson and Herman Watzinger). However, it is not easy to find money for such an original project in post-war times, so Heyerdahl has to use all his charisma and personal connections to get the expedition financed. Supported by private loans and donations from US Army, the crew starts building a raft.

Here comes another challenge: Heyerdahl insists to keep everything as authentic as possible and to construct the raft only with the materials which were available 1500 years ago (balsa logs, ropes, mangrove wood, banana leafs). As exception a number of modern items are allowed on board: a radio, watches, charts, sextant and metal knives.

The adventure begins: the raft leaves from a port in Peru in April 1947, around 100 days and 6900 kilometers lay ahead. The journey is everything but peaceful: it turns into a personal challenge for each crew member, captain Heyerdahl included (he will have to face his biggest fear and deal with it). Apart from real dangers like a storm or shark attacks, there is psychological tension between people on board.


This is a movie about people in extraordinary circumstances and their abilities survive in extreme conditions. One can only applaud to their brave (and successful) attempt to prove a scientific hypothesis by risking their lives. The film is wonderfully made, one has a feeling of being there on the raft with Thor and his companions, “sharing” dangers and joys. I would strongly recommend the film to those who love adventure and documentaries.



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