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Hearts and Heyerdahl

I Heart This Blanket

In keeping with the beach theme while I work on the lovely Postcards with Love blanket, today I watched Kon-Tiki (2012), the story of Thor Heyerdahl’s 1947 Kon-Tiki expedition. The film retells the true story of how Heyerdahl and his team constructed a balsa wood raft and sailed on it from Peru to the Polynesian islands, letting the ocean’s currents guide them as they floated.

Thor Heyerdahl and the crew of the Kon Tiki, 1947 | Reddit

The 4,300-mile Kon-Tiki expedition was based on Heyerdahl’s theory that the Polynesian people originated from South America. While some genetic evidence supports this, with findings of South American genes existing in the people of Easter Island, most genetic, cultural, and linguistic evidence points towards Island Southeast Asia origins in Polynesians.

However Heyerdahl wanted to prove that is was possible to drift from Peru to Polynesia by doing the same, so he and his crew floated on a raft from South America to the Polynesian Islands without the aid of modern technology, “just like Tiki did.” Like the story of Adam, in Polynesian mythology, Tiki was the first human being on earth. The raft’s name, Kon-Tiki, is based on the name of the Incan sun god believed to have guided ancient mariners and the discoverer of the Polynesian Islands.


As an interjection, some lore defines Kon-Tiki as a light-skinned South American thought to have travelled to Polynesia using a raft. Although the opinion is not expressed in the movie, to assume that the rich Polynesian culture stems from a white forefather who taught the Polynesians or even the South Americans their culture rather than white visitors learning from indigenous peoples, is obviously a backwards racist leap.

The story is a tale of perseverance, and the film is very well acted and also very captivating, with the determined Thor Heyerdahl played by Pål Sverre Hagen, and co-starring crewmates Anders Baasmo Christiansen as Herman Watzinger and Gustaf Skarsgård as Bengt Danielsson, and Heyerdahl’s wife played by Agnes Kittesen. The movie starts with Thor as a young child, and gives us some insight into the explorer’s adventurous personality. Then, we see Thor as an adult and he and his wife working together happily. However once Heyerdahl decides that riding a raft over 4,000 miles across the ocean is something he has to do, Thor leaves his wife and two children behind to undertake the voyage, as he tries to explain to his wife via static-y phone calls.


From this point on the movie follows the crew and the thrills they encounter while at sea. Despite knowing the outcome, the movie provided both suspense and excitement. However, watching crew attacks on the sharks during the adventure was disturbing and sad.

Kon-Tiki was directed by Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg, who later used their seafaring talents in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales in 2017. It was written by Petter Skavlan.

For entertainment value, I give Kon-Tiki 7/10 balls of yarn.


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