Kon Tiki – Film 1951


One of the most amazing stories ever to be seen on the screen is shown in ‘The Kon-Tiki Expedition’. The whole film is made up of shots taken on the actual voyage across the Pacific Ocean just after the war – and this documentary style film which was Swedish – as far as I can see was taken on by RKO Radio Pictures and given a worldwide release.

Kon-Tiki 1


I remember the publicity it got at the time – quite often featured on BBC Television



ABOVE –  The Kon-Tiki Adventurers –  Thor Heyerdahl, Knut Haugland, Erik Hesselberg, Torstein Raaby, Herman Watzinger and Bengt Danielsson

This voyage was one of the most thrilling adventure of modern times in 1947 when Thor Heyerdahl and his crew sailed across the Pacific Ocean on a flimsy raft from Peru to the Polynesian Islands – a distance of 4300 miles.

This film was taken on the voyage so almost a diary of what went on. 8,000 ft of film was shot during the voyage


Kon-Tiki 2


ABOVE – A steady Hand on the Tiller – but just look at those mountainous seas behind him

Kon-Tiki 7


ABOVE – This picture I have found just has the caption ‘ Man Overboard’


Kon-Tiki 3


Above – a captured shark – apparently sharks kept the crew company and sometimes threatened disaster to the frail craft.


Kon-Tiki 4


ABOVE – Thor Heyerdahl the skipper contemplates the next meal

On April 28, 1947,  Thor 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


Kon-Tiki 5


It looks likely to be fish – and a whopper too.


Kon-Tiki 6


ABOVE – Journey’s End – the mariners land on a coral reef in Polynesia in the Pacific Ocean – after 101 days afloat.



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