I had been eagerly waiting to see "Kon-Tiki" for quite some time, and this weekend it finally opened at the local art-house theatre here in Cincinnati. I went to see it right away.
"Kon-Tiki" (2012 release from Norway; original duration 118 min. US length approx. 95 min.) brings the story of how Norwegian scientist/esplorer Thor Heyerdahl wants to prove that Polunesia was first stlled by Peruvians, contrary to the accepted belief at that time. As the movie opens, we see young Thor already wanting to be a daredevil in hiw own backyard. Next we find Thor and his girlfrien/eventual wife Liv spending time in Polynesia in the late 1930s, and it is there that Thord gets the idea that Polynesia was settled by "travelers from the east" (which would be South America). Thor spends the next 10 years trying to prove this theory, until he is dared by a publisher to provide the ultimate proof: replicate the 5000 mile journey from Peru to Polynesia on a raft, the same way it was done 1500 years earlier. About half an hour into the movie, the journey begins, and what an epic journey it turns out to be. To tell you more would ruing your viewing pleasure.
Several comments: first and foremost, what is a great movie turns out to be a butchered version of the original (and Oscar-nominated) Norwegian version that was released last year to great acclaim (it is the highest grossing movie of all time in Norway). Indeed, all source materials (including info listed by the art-house theatre but also for example here on Amazon and on IMDb) list this as lasting 118 min. but what I saw today was barely over an hour and a half. After the movie was over, I asked to speak to the manager as I thought maybe something went wrong, but instead I was told that indeed the US version is a shortened version. The fact that some corporate suit at The Weinstein Company, the US distributor, decided the movie needed to be "dumbed down' for US audiences just sickens me, and it has left a bitter taste in my mouth. I wouldn't be surprised if for the DVD release they'll include the "extended" (meaning, the original) version to entice you to spend yet more money.
The fact that we see a drastically shorter version of the original movie has tainted my overall judgment of "Kon-Tiki", which has all the makings of an excellent "old school"-style adventure movie, with gorgeous photography and engaging performances. At this point you may wish to wait for the DVD release, rather than seeing it in the theatre, even though by all means a movie like this just begs to be seen on the big screen. A shame.