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March 31 2013

Kon-Tiki Sails Again

A new film recreates the epic voyage—and revives the controversy over its legendary leader, Thor Heyerdahl

The most harrowing scene in Kon-Tiki, the new Oscar-nominated Norwegian film about the greatest sea voyage of modern times, turns out to be a fish story. In the 2012 reconstruction of this 1947 adventure, six amateur Scandinavian sailors—five of whom are tall, slim and valiant—build a replica of an ancient pre-Incan raft, christen it Kon-Tiki and sail westward from Peru along the Humboldt Current for French Polynesia, more than 3,700 nautical miles away. In mid-passage, their pet macaw is blown overboard and gobbled up by a big bad shark. During the scene in ques- tion, one of the tall and slim and valiant is so enraged by the bird’s death that he thrusts his bare hands into the Pacific, hauls in the shark and guts it with a savagery that would have made Norman Bates envious.

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