Thor Heyerdahl’s legendary journey from Peru to Polynesia on a raft was made famous in the Oscar winning documentary made in 1950, Kon-Tiki. In a new film of this voyage, Kon-Tiki, made with a fine cast of Norwegian actors, Thor Heyerdahl (Pal Sverre Hagen) enters The Explorers Club hoping to find support for this mad trip, and last week, in anticipation of the film’s opening and an exhibition of the raft, The Weinstein Company hosted a luncheon for a small group at The Explorers Club.
After welcoming everyone, including Josh Bernstein, Richard Wiese, Lawrence O’Donnell, Chuck Scarborough, and Glenn Close, Harvey Weinstein recounted the importance of Kon-Tiki to him as an elementary schooler. As he exuded about the “show and tell” he did on the amazing story of this Pacific Ocean crossing, you could see the boy in the man.
Then he introduced adventurer David de Rothschild who made his own voyage from San Francisco to Sydney on a catamaran made of recycled plastic, Plastiki. De Rothschild interviewed the new Kon-Tiki directors Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg. Answering David de Rothschild’s questions about the rigors of making the film and the reception by Thor Heyerdahl’s family, the directors agreed, of course everything can go wrong when you are making a film on water. Filming on the Mediterranean for a month, they also had the advantage of using a replica of the 1947 balsawood raft that was constructed in 2006 for a copy-cat crossing by Thor Heyerdahl’s grandson Olav and five others. Now making its own voyage from Norway, the raft will be on view for a week starting on April 14 at the North Cove Marina in Battery Park City.
The new Kon-Tiki was shot in both English and in Norwegian with the actors fluent in each language. The Norwegian version was nominated for a Foreign Language Academy Award. Thor Heyerdahl became a rock star in his country, so his family was quite pleased to see the story about the man and what he did to become the celebrity they knew.