Erik Skjoldbjærg’s “Pioneer”

3There are certain conventions that one must adhere to when making a genre type film. For example, if one is doing comedy the look of the film should be light with a dayglo. Even in dark comedy films there is a tinge of light somewhere begging to be seen. If one is making a horror film there are certain things that go bump in the night; things we come to expect from a film, for example, the music choices, the lighting, etc. When I viewed the film Pioneer by Erik Skjoldbjærg, I gotta admit I was a bit skewed by the trailer, making me believe that this would be an action packed film with twists and turns. But under this guise I was sorely disappointed.

two-stars1Pioneer is visually satisfying. I’m no one to check for continuity, so if there was any mistakes I couldn’t tell you. And besides, if a person is sitting around checking for stuff like that then they missed the point of cinema; which is to dream. Making a movie is a grueling process, as if one is going to war, and everyday is a fight just to get it done. Not alone will one have to please studio execs, other investors, and the general highs and lows of emotion, so I won’t divest on the technical aspect, but let’s just say its grueling work. When it comes to making a movie there are certain things to be aware of, like story, budget, theme, market, audience, all the basics, but in pre production the one core ingredient is theme, and genre movies should be aware of this.

There is an adage that says, a house built on sand will not stand, so build a house on a firm/solid foundation. For a film the firm foundation is the script. The genre (another preproduction basic) is the mold where the cement is poured. If you pour a thriller into a drama then you get a confused thriller that lingers and lumbers along, trying to figure out why it can’t play like the other kids. It’s what we call/feel as an audience when we say “good but something was missing.”

I am starting to think that maybe Skjoldbjærg was feeling the pressure to outdo his film, Insomnia (1997) and his need to impress an already lackluster American audience with great visuals, color, sound design, etc., (no argument there), but this need to please us hampered his great talent. Pioneer has a great premise and is a wonderful history lesson, but it unmet my expectations. This was a thriller, yet I wasn’t thrilled.


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