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Nordic Film Cultures and Cinemas of Elsewhere$
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Anna Westerstahl Stenport and Arne Lunde

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781474438056

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474438056.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 17 September 2021

The Cinematic Kon-Tiki Expeditions: Realism, Spectacle, and the Migration of Nordic Cinema

The Cinematic Kon-Tiki Expeditions: Realism, Spectacle, and the Migration of Nordic Cinema

Chapter:
(p.378) 29. The Cinematic Kon-Tiki Expeditions: Realism, Spectacle, and the Migration of Nordic Cinema
Source:
Nordic Film Cultures and Cinemas of Elsewhere
Author(s):

Benjamin Bigelow

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9781474438056.003.0029

This chapter investigates cinematic strategies used to depict Thor Heyerdahl’s Kon-Tiki expedition of 1947 on screen. The critical discourse surrounding Heyerdahl’s 1950 documentary film has centered on the ontology of its images, which film history’s most influential theorist of realism, André Bazin, famously praised in Kon-Tiki. Despite Bazin’s enthusiasm, both expedition and documentary were highly mediated and staged promotional events from the beginning. The only reason a film could be cobbled together at all from the waterlogged 16mm film that Heyerdahl brought home with him was because of the intervention of a Swedish film technician who resized and repaired the badly damaged sequences. In 2013, Norwegian directors Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg turned to Heyerdahl’s expedition for their own film. In their take, the sedate source material of the documentary has given way to spectacular visual effects and scenes of peril on the high seas. All the absent scenes of danger in the original take center stage in the latter film. Subtext has become text, as Rønning and Sandberg transform the source material into cinematic spectacle.

Keywords:   Kon-Tiki, Heyerdahl, Realism, Spectacle, Bazin, Documentary, expedition

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