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Legendary explorer Thor Heyerdal's epic 4,300-mile crossing of the Pacific on a balsawood raft in 1947, in an effort prove that it was possible for South Americans to settle in Polynesia in pre-Columbian times.
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"Kon-Tiki" was the name of a wooden raft used by six Scandinavian scientists, led by Thor Heyerdahl, to make a 101-day journey from South America to the Polynesian Islands. The purpose of the expedition was to prove Heyerdal's theory that the Polynesian Islands were populated from the east---specifically Peru---rather than from the west (Asia)as had been the theory for hundreds of years. Heyerdahl made a study of the winds and tides in the Pacific, and by simulating conditions as closely as possible to those he theorized the Peruvians encountered, set out on the voyage. Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
The 77-minute movie originally premiered in Stockholm on January 13th 1950. It was released on DVD (Region 1) by Janson Media in 2001 (some sites say 2006) and includes an English soundtrack. Some versions are 124 minutes and include these special features: Thor Heyerdahl: Explorer & Scientist, Photo Gallery, Expedition Map, and Rare Color Footage. See more »
The tweedy professor-types thought they had it all figured out. Today's peoples who inhabit Polynesia descended from migratory Asians, intrepidly moving from the Far East, island to island, eastward into Tahiti and all the other exotic tropic isles of the South Pacific over thousands of years. But the established thinking just didn't sit well with young Norwegian ethnographer Thor Heyerdahl. If that explanation were true, how come some folks born and bred in those islands have traditions, artwork, and physical features resembling not those from Asia, but South America? How can the vegetation of Ecuador, Peru and Chile look so much like what you'd find on the island several thousand miles away? Is it just a coincidence that the Islanders point out to sea in the direction of South America and say that is where their ancestors came from, led by Tiki, their equivalent of Adam? Meanwhile, how is it Norwegians speak of Scandanavian forerunners who were chased from the South American continent they had colonized, and, together with some of the native peoples they befriended, set off over the sea -- heading WEST? It's all too much to be a coincidence to Heyerdahl. With an amazing amount of moxie, a handful of crewmen, and the local know-how for traditional raft-building, an expedition begins. It's as much a trip into the human imagination as it is a pseudo-scientific demonstration that such a journey is possible with only the very basics of tools and seamanship. The Oscar-winning documentary may be dated in its tone and Anglo-ethnocentric approach, but it soars with a spirit of adventure besting even the space program that launched a decade later, as men are willing to risk it all to test a theory they think is true. Wonderful. Do yourself a favor and read the book first. It is an amazing page-turner and the perfect setup for the newsreel-style movie.
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