(out of 5)
Thor Heyerdahl, while doing work on the islands of the Pacific, researches the pineapple and deduces that it originates from South America and not India as originally thought. Fellow scientists balk at his findings and refuse to publish his work, insisting that it is not possible that humans could have traveled from the west coast of South America to Polynesia in pre-modern times. Determined to prove his theory, Heyerdahl puts together a giant raft using only the technology available a thousand years ago, assembles a crew of equally gung-ho adventurers, brings along a movie camera and a pet parrot and sets sail for the old world. What results is a struggle for survival against a gorgeous backdrop of glistening blue skies, crystal-clear water and flagging morale as the men avoid being eaten by sea life and try not to drive each other mental. This gorgeous, family-friendly saga is Life Of Pi without the spiritual hokum, a terrific inside look at the Oscar-winning documentary about the adventure that Heyerdahl released in 1950 using footage taken while on the trip. To secure funding to pay for the superb visual effects in this version, filmmakers Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg had to succumb to filming the dialogue scenes in both the original Norwegian and English, and in this version the compromise mars the final product. The actors and their accents are not as comfortable speaking the translated script as they are in their original tongue, and with sixteen minutes of footage excised from the Norwegian cut (presumably character and plot-building moments), it does not feel as full an experience as it should. It’s a terrible compromise to ask of North American audiences as well, since it is better to wait for the proper version on DVD, but the film is best experienced on a giant movie screen.
Recorded Picture Company, Roenbergfilm, Nordisk Film Production, DCM Productions, Film i Väst, Falkun Films, Stunt Bros
Cinematography by Geir Hartly Andreassen
Music by Johan Soderqvist
Production Design by Karl Júlíusson
Costume Design by Stine Gudmundsen-Holmgreen