Kon-Tiki (1950)

Kon-Tiki (1950)

“What is shown is what actually took place.”

Thor Heyerdahl and his crew sail across the Pacific Ocean on a wooden raft, hoping to prove that Peruvian Indians may once have settled in the Polynesian Islands.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • At Sea
  • Documentary
  • Scientists

This Oscar-winning documentary — constructed primarily from 16 mm footage shot during Heyerdahl’s historic trans-Pacific voyage — remains surprisingly powerful viewing. Other than its “voice of God” narration and an opening sequence showing maps of the trip, this film tells it like it is: we feel like we’re right there on the boat with these brave men as they carry out one of the most audacious “experiments” in the history of the social sciences. Click here to read more about the expedition.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • A fascinating glimpse at the Kon-Tiki crew’s trials and triumphs
  • The climactic final moments of the crew’s journey
  • Flying fish landing on the deck of the raft each morning, providing convenient “fast food” for the sailors

Must See?
Yes. This documentary remains a fascinating look at one of the most famous sea voyages ever made. Listed in the back of Peary’s book as a film with Historical Importance and a Personal Recommendation.


  • Historically Relevant
  • Oscar Winner or Nominee


One thought on “Kon-Tiki (1950)

  1. Agreed; a must, for reasons mentioned. A compact (just under an hour), impressively photographed, and straightforward document which speaks for itself.

    Personally, the most interesting aspect was how the crew followed – and benefitted from – the “golden rule among primitive races”: “Don’t resist nature, but yield to her commands – and accommodate.”

    Loved the parrot! – and missed her when she left the expedition midway.

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