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THE STORY OF LEGENDARY EXPLORER THOR HEYERDAL'S EPIC 4,300 MILES CROSSING OF THE PACIFIC ON A BALSA WOOD RAFT IN 1947, IN AN EFFORT PROVE IT WAS POSSIBLE FOR SOUTH AMERICANS TO SETTLE IN POLYNESIA IN PRE-COLUMBIAN TIMES.
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"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.
at the Nashville Film Festival. It was an inspiring film
that brought out raw emotion for the six men that made the
101 day journey together. Thor was a calm leader that kept
his wits about him even under the toughest of conditions.
And it was incredible that he could not swim! I am not sure
if all of the facts are true in this film, but it was
extremely well done. The actors are fantastic and engaging.
Truly one of our modern day adventurers, Thor Heyedahl had
a vision that he shared with the world. This is a must see
movie. Even if you doubt his theory that South Americans
crossed the Pacific to land in Polynesia, the story is one
that you will enjoy and keep you on the edge of your seat!
As you will learn from my fellow Amazon reviewer Paul Allaer, the US theatrical version was edited down from 119 minutes to 96 minutes. It was the longer version - in Norwegian with English Subtitles - that was nominated for the Academy Award as Best Foreign Feature Film. What you get on both the DVD and the BD version are BOTH that original as well as the English language version - which will give the film greater exposure. Whichever version you choose, it is the visual images that will grab you the most. The BD version looked great on my new flat screen TV. There were a few sound issues however with the volume dropping off in a few places. I'm not sure it this was in the transfer or not. (This was in the English version.). The special effects (mostly CGI created) are quite heavy, but very realistic. (One of the two "bonus features" is a nine-minute "Visual Effects Featurette" which shows the images before and after the CGI effects, with no narration; just a musical soundtrack.)
The other bonus is a 25 minute "program" on the expedition that Thor Heyerdahl made in 1947 and subsequent book and film versions. It appears to have been made for a television show.
Having recently returned from a vacation in Norway, I was anxious to see this film (which seemed to have passed through Philadelphia quickly on its theatrical run.). I found it both historically interesting and well-acted, especially when there were no identifiable "stars" to distract me from the story.
UPDATE 8/28/13: I just checked my combo pack and noted that the DVD included has only the English language version. The BD in the combo has both. I do not know if the stand alone DVD set has the Norwegian version but I doubt it, because a single DVD can not hold that much info.
FURTHER UPDATE - 8/29/13 - A commenter (see comments) confirmed that the DVD version is also a TWO_disc set and does contain both Emnglish and Norwegian version. (I only had the BD Combo pack when I posted my review)
I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.