A post WWII unusual angle of vision.
Land of Mine
Director: Martin Zandvliet (A Funny Man)
Cast: Roland Moller (Atomic Blonde), Louis Hofmann (Tom Sawyer)
Runtime: 1 hr 40 min
by John DeSando
“Those of you who count the mines, make sure my card is updated. This task is as important as defusing mines.” Sgt. Carl Rasmussen (Roland Moller)
In 1945, Denmark needed to defuse the over 2 million landmines left on their western beaches by the Nazis. A Danish sergeant is responsible for 14 German POWs, youngsters all, to find the 45 K on one beach, after which the boys can go home.
That precision mentioned in the opening quote lies at the heart of the film’s considerable suspense because one unaccounted for mine can take multiple lives. And so, the sergeant has to corral teenage workers, motivate them with fear, and keep at bay his growing affection for them.
Therein lies the real suspense: Will he learn to love and protect them or will he be brutal as he was in the opening scene? For a story somewhat like Hurt Locker, Land of Mine is a minimalist work of complexity, unadorned with the usual tropes of thrillers but full of the humanity to make it rise above just another WW II sentimental reflection.
Besides the tension built into the always impending explosions is the question of whether or not the Danes will act like Nazis suppressing the lads and hurrying them on to death. The moments of warmth between the sergeant and the boys are few but revelatory enough for us to hope their innocence and bravery will win him over.
Land of Mine will usher you into a war zone you’ve not seen handled so well in cinema, except possibly Jean Renoir’s Grand Illusion in the ‘30’s. The drama, replete with many dramatic elements and even Chekov’s gun, will make you wince at the possibly grotesque fate of faultless boys and their conflicted sergeant.
John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.rr.com