Before We Saw the Trailer, We Thought: Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl may have conquered the Pacific Ocean on a tiny wooden raft in 1947 (and won an Academy Award for Best Documentary in 1950 for his exploits in the process), but this Sunday the first dramatic adaptation of his marvelous expedition seems poised to fall against a couple of helpless, ailing octogenarians, as Michael Haneke’s “Amour” and Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg’s “Kon-Tiki” go head to head in the Best Foreign Film category at the Oscars. Early buzz described the film in terms like “enjoyable” and “supersized,” hinting at the Norwegian equivalent of high seas blockbuster fare.
And Now? The Weinstein Company-backed “Kon-Tiki,” starring Nordic Ryan Gosling doppleganger Pal Sverre Valheim Hagen as Heyerdahl, is notable in the nominated bunch for being the most expensive in-country produced film in Norwegian history. It shows, too, as you can see now in the visceral first trailer. Nearly every shot has a go-for-broke, Speilbergian scale, including one of the most impressively rendered shark attacks (that is, both shark attacking man and man attacking shark) in recent memory. The true story on which is based, Heyerdale’s dramatic attempt to prove his theory that South Americans in pre-Colombian times coul’ve made the same journey to settle the South Sea Islands, is compelling enough that it hardly needs embellishment.
You don’t usually see swashbuckling adventure films in the Oscar crop of late, but “Kon-Tiki” promises to be exciting and often awe-inspiring enough to prevent it from becoming just another “nominee that wasn’t ‘Amour.'” Could “Kon-Tiki” achieve similar success in the U.S. as in Norway, where it was a box office smash? Check out the trailer below and let us know if you’ll be seeing the film when The Weinstein Company releases it on April 19th.