This is what really happened on the Kon-Tiki
by Jorn Rossing Jensen
19/07/2012 - While Norwegian directors Espen Sandberg and Joachim Rønning’s €12.3 million Kon-Tiki [trailer] (photo) – Norway’s most expensive feature so far – will open the 40th Norwegian International Film Festival in Haugesund (on August 18) before a royal gala and national release (in all Norwegian theatres, around 185), the original Kon-Tiki documentary will for the first time be marketed on DVD.
”Norwegian anthropologist and explorer Thor Heyerdahl knew what publicity can do – he always filmed his expeditions, and his Oscar win in 1952 made it possible for him to finance his continuing voyages of discovery,” explained Marketing Director Halfdan Tangen Jr, of Oslo’s Kon-Tiki Museum, which registers 200,000 visitors annually.
On April 28, 1947, Heyerdahl and five fellow scientists boarded their wooden raft, the Kon-Tiki, to sail from South America to the Polynesian Islands – they reached Raroia in the Pacific 101 days later – he brought his 16mm camera to document the journey. After the expedition, he was offered $200 for the unedited footage, but he refused – he wanted to use it for lectures.
Sweden’s Artfilm was the only Scandinavian laboratory with an optical printer that could transfer 16mm material to 35mm negative and, on January 13 1950, Kon-Tiki had its world premiere in Stockholm. Two years later it became the first (and still only) Norwegian full-length film to win an Oscar, for Best Documentary Feature (which eventually ended with Swedish producer-editor Olle Nordemar).
The Kon-Tiki Museum, Norwegian pubcaster NRK and the Walt Disney Company Nordic will on August 8 launch a DVD with the original documentary narrated by Heyerdahl (in English), adding Norwegian, French and German TV versions and the film he made with NRK. Kon-Tiki, which is shown daily at the museum, has sold 30 million tickets worldwide.