My mother, Liv Coucheron Torp, was married to Thor Heyerdahl, the Norwegian scientist and explorer whose Kon-Tiki expedition in 1947 became one of the great enduring adventure stories of all time. That tale, published in 1950, came to the big screen first as a documentary and is now an Oscar-nominated drama scheduled to open here on Friday. I attended the movie’s premiere in Oslo last summer, which was in many ways the culmination of a journey that took root in my family even before “Kon-Tiki” was conceived.
Liv and Thor met as college students at the University of Oslo and were married when she was just 20 and he was 22. They had an audacious plan for their new life together, which is depicted briefly on film. Drawing from Thor’s studies of zoology and primitive man and his desire to step away from the modern world, they set out on a grand experiment: Could modern man truly go back to nature? Could this contemporary Adam and Eve travel not only geographically to the end of the world but also step back into the Stone Age and live like ancient man?