Petter is a commercial deep-sea diver working in the waters near Norway during the 1970s. The beginning of that decade saw Norway discover vast and lucrative amounts of oil and gas deposits on their seabed. In order to extract the oil heavy duty, piping has to be installed at incredible depths. The Norwegian government employ a group of skilled divers from their own country, plus a small contingent of American divers.
Due to the risks that the men are putting themselves at, they are forced to go through grueling tests in compression chambers where they are exposed to conditions similar to that on the seabed. After some intense training, Petter and his brother Knut, are given the responsibility of laying the first set of piping in the sea. During the expedition, tragedy strikes when Knut dies in a catastrophic accident which occurred whilst Petter had inexplicably blacked out. Although distraught, Petter seeks to learn the truth behind the accident and why he mysteriously lost consciousness. Despite confronting experts, executives and even his own colleagues, Petter continuously comes up short with answers.
When taking matters into his own hands, Petter begins to uncover shocking facts that expose his employers and the governments, as money-hungry sharks have put greed ahead of safety. During his investigation Petter has a number of attempts made upon his life; many of which result in near misses.
As a character on whole, Petter can best be described as faithful, strong and determined. His main drive whilst investigating the accident is to honour his brother’s death and seek closure for his wife and young child. The conundrum he faces is that while he doesn’t trust the people he is questioning he can’t help but feel that the job he is doing will greatly contribute for the financial future of Norway.
Pioneer is based upon a true scandal which rocked Norway in the 1970s. Several men lost their lives and others still continue to experience physical and mental problems to this day and only in the past year have the Norwegian authorities begun to address those issues and pay compensation.
Acclaimed Norwegian actor Aksel Hennie portrays Petter in Pioneer and gives a typically physical and starry-eyed performance that we have come to expect from the actor, who rose to fame after the release of Headhunters in 2012. Pioneer has been produced by the same team as Headhunters and is directed by Erik Skjoldbjærg, the man behind Insomnia (1997).