This year, as Europe commemorates the beginning of World War One, a team of Danes and Germans are working together to explore the aftermath of the horrors of war.
And no, it isn’t DR’s ‘1864’, the landmark TV series airing later this year to mark the 150th anniversary of Denmark’s crushing defeat by Germany at the Battle of Dybbøl in the Second Schleswig War.
‘Under Sandet’ (‘Land of Mine’) portrays an arguably darker period in Danish history when former German prisoners-of-war were horribly mistreated by the Danes following the end of World War Two.
During 1945, around 2,000 captured Germans were used by the Danes to detect unexploded mines by walking hand-in-hand through deadly terrain. It is estimated that over half of the former prisoners were killed or severely injured, and the practice also took place in Norway and France.
Hate, revenge and forgiveness
‘Land of Mine’ follows the story of the young German soldiers and the Danish commanders forcing them to risk their lives.
“’Land of Mine’ is a film about hate, revenge and forgiveness,” Martin Zandvliet, the director, said in a press release.
“The film is not an attempt to point fingers or create collective guilt 70 years after the war ended. It’s more of a desire to show how a population’s hatred created fear and terror among a group of young boys who had just one sole desire in life: to come home to their mothers and fathers.”
An international effort
Producers Mikael Reis (a Dane) and Malte Grunert (a German) are working together on the film, which has secured an impressive estimated budget of 35.5 million kroner – thanks to the support of Nordisk Film & TV Fond and several German backers – and began shooting in July. Filming will take place at the actual locations of the events in west Jutland and northern Germany.
It has recently been announced that k5 International, the company behind hits such as ‘Vice’ and ‘The Reluctant Fundamentalist’, has taken on distribution for the film, which should premiere next year.
‘Land of Mine’ marks a departure from Zandvliet’s earlier films, such as ‘Dirch’ (‘Funny Man’) in 2011, which focused on the life of stand-up comedian Dirch Passer.
However, with Reis by his side for the third time, and actors like Roland Møller and Mikkel Boe Folsgaard in the lead roles, it looks like Zandvleit has the right ingredients to make a powerful film.