North Sea Danger: Pioneer (2013) + The Dive (1989)

March 16, 2015 | By

The Ugly American vs. The Determined Norwegian.


I’ve been a fan of diving dramas for many years, probably since childhood when I saw a Warner Bros.’ cartoon about a daydreaming kid who envisioned himself an action man (and diver), and maybe because of an episode of Davey and Goliath where Davey steps along the bottom of the ocean.

It might also have been a B movie whose name I still can’t recall in which a rich prick blackmails a diver to enter a dangerous wreck and retrieve gold. Or maybe the comic book version of The Deep (1978) in which studly Nick Nolte and shapely Jacqueline Bisset explore a treacherous wreck in the Bahamas. Childhood impressions that made it clear if you didn’t know what you were doing, you could become fish food (except for Davey, because I knew he was made of wood. If his suit got punctured, he’d just float).

Magnolia’s release of Pioneer / Pioner (2013) on Blu is the latest offering of a suspense-drama about underwater danger, death, and greed, and while not fully successful for reasons outlined in the review, it’s still a gorgeous production with stunning images and claustrophobic environs.

Set in the late 1970s, Eik Skjoldbjærg’s film was inspired by the real-life drama of test dives in which American and Norwegian crews attempted to assemble pipelines on the ocean floor during the years that preceded Norway’s incredible oil boom in the North Sea.

When I was 10 years old, I took a ‘boat ride’ to Helgoland, a former WWII military base set on remote German isle, and I remember the insane waves rocking the boat back & forth. I had to abandon a perfectly fine goulash din-din for the cabin where I did my damndest to avoid puking.

Dive1989_R2The North Sea is very active when it’s in a bad mood, and the dangers go beyond losing one’s goulash, as dramatized in a related and forgotten Norwegian film called The Dive / Dykket (1989) which focused almost exclusively on two divers trapped in a bell with bad weather and diminishing odds of a safe return to the surface.

I’ve ported over my review from the old site to support Pioneer, and maybe some enterprising label will put out the ’89 movie in North America, preferably with some decent extras.

Coming next: a set of soundtrack reviews, including Chappie, Cinderella, The Rewrite, and Mad as Hell.




Mark R. Hasan, Editor

Tags: , , , , ,


Comments are closed.