A breathtaking re-telling of anthropologist Thor Heyerdahl’s transformational 1947 journey by raft from Peru to Polynesia.
The word adventurer can certainly be applied to Norwegian explorer and anthropologist Thor Heyerdahl, who in 1947 literally threw caution to the wind when he set sail from Peru on a raft made of balsa logs to confirm his theory that South American travellers had once settled in Polynesia in pre-Columbian times. That he made the trip is a matter of record, but what this compelling action-drama really illustrates is just how much Heyerdahl and his six-man crew put at stake, heading out into the wide blue yonder with only basic supplies and nothing to save them in the event of an emergency. Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg’s luminous account of Heyerdahl’s crossing tells a tale of true heroism, never stinting on the price the explorer would finally pay in his personal life for such an audacious undertaking, but also capturing the breathtaking natural beauty of the unknown, either below the shimmering blue waterline or way up in the clouds.
Childhood friends Joachim Roenning and Espen Sandberg grew up in southern Norway in the 1980s. Part of the the first video generation, they spent their spare time making short films with a massive 30-pound home video camera belonging to Joachim’s father. At a time when video editing was only performed on expensive equipment by professionals, they gained access to their home town’s only video production company. Here they could sit at night and create their little films. Thus, Roenning and Sandberg were given a golden opportunity to practise that most important aspect of filmmaking: storytelling. In 1991 they started their own company, Roenberg – a combination of their two names. In 1994, they graduated from Stockholm's Filmskola in Sweden, and began their military service later that year. As part of the same unit, they travelled all over Norway, which allowed them to film everything from submarines to helicopter shots of NATO exercises in the far north. In 1995, Roenning and Sandberg began their career in advertising. Their visual style and comedic sense quickly made them popular across Europe. When they won the USA Today Ad Meter survey for their Budweiser spot during the 2001 Super Bowl, their path to the American market was opened and they moved to Los Angeles for two years. Along with Espen Horn and Harald Zwart they own and run Motion Blur in Oslo, Scandinavia’s largest and most-awarded advertising film production company. In 2006, their first feature was released worldwide, the English-language Western Bandidas. Starring Penelope Cruz and Salma Hayek, with legendary French director Luc Besson as screenwriter and producer, the €30M production was shot over 81 days in Mexico. 2008 saw the premiere of their war epic Max Manus, based on books by the Norwegian resistance hero of the same name. The film opened to rave reviews and drew a record 1.2 million Norwegians to the box office. Max Manus won 7 Amandas including Best Film, and screened in Official Selection at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2009. Roenning and Sandberg’s next project will be Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean 5.
Enjoy a world of benefits with BFI Cinema Membership.
Follow the BFI London Film Festival live blog.