Monday, July 1, 2013
Fox News has a list of 10 greatest ocean adventure movies. Most were fictitious, such as 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and there was one real disaster (Titanic), which returned this year in 3D.
I was thus inspired by the latest movie on Kon-Tiki, which covers the real-life dream of Thor Heyerdahl, when in 1947 he overcame huge doubts and challenges to sail for 101 days a distance of 5,000 miles on a balsa raft with a dedicated crew of four Norwegians and one Swede from Peru to French Polynesia, constantly being followed by sharks, which served as food. Only the President of Peru, Jose Luis Bustamente y Rivero, was particularly helpful. The U.S. Navy predicted he would never get there. The Norwegian documentary, Kon-Tiki (1950), won the 1951 Oscar for documentary films, the only such award to any movie product from Norway. By clicking on it, you watch the entire nearly hour-long movie, an excellent background piece before seeing the current version.
Rotten Tomatoes gave an 83% reviewers rating and 78% from the audience. The film was entertaining, but not particularly suspenseful, as you knew they would make it. There was an encounter with a 25 foot Whale Shark (actual photo to the left), which one of the crew stupidly harpooned, almost scuttling the expedition.
Heyerdahl's contention that Polynesia was populated by settlers from South America never gained anthropological acceptance. More recently, mitochondrial DNA indicated that the migration was mostly from the West (Asia). However, there are elements of Polynesian culture that no doubt were influenced from the East and there is now added genetic testing that suggests there certainly were some Eastern input. Kon-Tiki was an Incan Sun-God, who might have been white, and left Peru only to avoid a total massacre.
Over 87 years, Heyerdahl lived quite a life, with three wives, selling 100 million copies of his book on this adventure, widely representing the United Nations, and sailing in a papyrus reed boat across the Atlantic. Maybe more than anything else, he inspired countless youths about the ocean. Including me.