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The true story about legendary explorer Thor Heyerdahl and his epic crossing of the Pacific on a balsa wood raft in 1947.
For more about Kon-Tiki and the Kon-Tiki Blu-ray release, see Kon-Tiki Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on September 1, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: Pål Sverre Valheim Hagen, Anders Baasmo Christiansen, Gustaf Skarsgård, Odd Magnus Williamson, Tobias Santelmann, Jakob Oftebro
Directors: Joachim Rønning, Espen Sandberg
» See full cast & crew
Kon-Tiki Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, September 1, 2013
Norwegian directors Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg's "Kon-Tiki" (2012) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Anchor Bay Home Entertainment. The release contains the Oscar nominated Norwegian language version of the film as well as a shorter English language version. Also included are two standard featurettes. In Norwegian or English, with optional English SDH and Spanish subtitles (see technical description for further details). Region-A "locked".
The film chronicles a true event. In 1947, Norwegian scientist Thor Heyerdahl embarked on a dangerous journey through the Pacific Ocean to prove to the academic community that South Americans reached the Polynesian Islands long before Christopher Columbus. Heyerdahl built a balsa wood raft, just like the ancient explorers, and named it Kon-Tiki, after the Incan sun god. Then, assisted by five men, he entered the Pacific Ocean. 101 days later, Heyerdahl and his men reached Raroia in the Tuamotu Islands.
In 1948, Heyerdahl published a book in which he described in great detail Kon-Tiki's voyage. Two years later, Heyerdahl also directed the documentary film Kon-Tiki, which became the first Norwegian film to win an Oscar award.
Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg's film recreates Kon-Tiki's voyage in spectacular style. After Heyerdahl's (Pal Sverre Hagen, Max Manus: Man of War, Troubled Water) theory is rejected by the National Geographical Society, the action moves to Peru where the balsa wood raft is built with the assistance of the local government. Here the ongoing discussions between Heyerdahl and his men are particularly interesting because they allow the viewer to understand the exact dilemmas the explorers were facing at the time.
Throughout the film the balsa wood raft is shown from a variety of different angles. Various special effects are also used to recreate some of the most dangerous parts of its journey. (Describing them would mean spoiling the film so let's just say that there are a few sequences involving giant visitors that look simply astonishing). The entire film, however, is wonderfully well balanced. Even during the most exotic sequences, the special effects never become distracting.
Hagen is unquestionably the star of the film, but the rest of the actors are just as impressive. Especially during the second half where the explorers face some of the toughest challenges and begin to doubt themselves, the acting is top-notch. Agness Kittelsen, who plays Heyerdahl's wife and appears only in a few important flashbacks, also leaves a memorable impression.
Different parts of Kon-Tiki were shot on location in Norway, the Maldives, Bulgaria, Thailand, Malta, and Sweden. The panoramic shots from Malta – without the CGI effects – are particularly beautiful.
The entire film was shot with different high-tech cameras - Arri Alexa (Arri RawLog-C), RED One, and RED Epic – and looks remarkably crisp and vibrant. Currently, it is the most expensive Norwegian film ever made.
The film's terrific ambient soundtrack was composed by Johan Soderqvist (Susanne Bier's Brothers and After the Wedding, Tomas Alfredson's Let The Right One In).
Note: Last year, Kon-Tiki was selected to represent Norway in the Best Foreign Language Film category of the 85th Academy Awards.
Kon-Tiki Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.39:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg's Kon-Tiki arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Anchor Bay Home Entertainment.
There are two versions of Kon-Tiki on this Blu-ray release:
1. Original Norwegian language version, which runs at approximately 119 minutes (01.59.02).
2. English language version, which runs at approximately 96 minutes (01.36.01).
Please note that Norwegian language version of Kon-Tiki comes with optional English SDH subtitles (for the portions of the film where English is spoken) and imposed English subtitles for the Norwegian dialog. The subtitles appear inside the image frame.
The English language version of the film comes with optional English SDH and Spanish subtitles. When turned on, they appear inside the image frame.
Shot with different high-tech cameras -- Arri Alexa (Arri RawLog-C), RED One, and RED Epic -- Kon-Tiki looks spectacular in high-definition. Detail and image depth are simply superb, while the impeccably saturated colors are often breathtaking beautiful. Even the nighttime footage is quite remarkable (see the footage with the glowing visitors). Contrast and clarity are also outstanding. There are no serious compression anomalies to report in this review. Also, there are absolutely no stability issues whatsoever. All in all, this is indeed a beautiful presentation of a truly remarkably beautiful film. (Note: This is a Region-A "locked" Blu-ray release. Therefore, you must have a native Region-A or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
Kon-Tiki Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There are two standard audio tracks on this Blu-ray release: Norwegian DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. See the video section of this review for the different types of subtitles that are found on the disc.
The Norwegian track is fantastic - the sound is is rich and very well rounded. The range of nuanced dynamics is also outstanding, which is why even the smallest movement or random noise is immediately felt. It is Johan Söderqvist's wonderful score, however, that gives the film its exotic flavor. Indeed, the music sounds incredibly potent. The dialog is crisp, clean, stable, and always easy to follow. There are no pops, cracks, audio dropouts, or distortions to report in this review.
Kon-Tiki Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Kon-Tiki Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg's Kon-Tiki, the most expensive Norwegian film ever produced, is also one of the year's best films. I liked it so much that I am now going to see if I can track down a DVD copy of Thor Heyerdahl's original documentary film, which won an Oscar for Best Documentary in 1951. Anchor Bay's presentation of this very beautiful film is outstanding. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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