Denmark has not been short of war movies over the last twelve months, with A War, 1864, April 9th and now Land of Mine covering various aspects of war. However, Land of Mine stands apart from other films for its depiction of a unique story that comes in the post war days in World War II. And beyond covering a unique story, Land of Mine is one of the most tense and focused narratives to cover war in recent years.
- Domestic Premiere: 3 December 2015
- International Premieres:
- USA: 22 January 2016 (Sundance)
- Germany: 7 April 2016
- Sweden: 15 April 2016
- Italy: 23 June 2016
War film on a topic that hasn’t been explored in cinema before.
Tense, emotional and incredible viewing.
An excellent depiction of an important topic, and a perfectly put together film to match.
Set on the Danish west coast, a group of young German soldiers have been captured by Denmark and sent to the beach under the controls of Danish Army Sergeant Rasmussen. Here, they have the job of clearing 45,000 landmines of the 1.5 million in total that the Nazi’s planted along the beach as part of a wall along the European west coast. The boys are promised that once they clear the landmines they are free to go home.
The true dangers of the task are outlined during training, in which one of the young boys doesn’t survive. The sudden and loud explosions sets you up for the remainder of the film, which largely takes place on the beach and watches as the boys search for landmines, and many of them are blown up.
The events of the film are faintly predictable, with the boys often talking about their plans for when they get back to Germany right before they get blown up from a landmine. However, this predictability isn’t a bad thing, as Zandvliet’s script and direction avoid milking the drama of melodrama. Each explosion is as horrific as the last, and this creates a strong presence of tensions and several upsetting moments throughout the film. Furthermore, only one of the explosions is gory, allowing the audience to understand the true power of the mines without overdoing the gore.
The performances of the young boys are superb, and make the film so powerful and realistic. Roland Moller portrays Rasmussen as a badass with a heart of gold (as a figure of speech!), as he is seen playing with his dogs between bouts of yelling at the boys. His character is out to show that not all hatred towards the Nazis is justified or even necessary, though it would be hard for some to see that. Mikkel Boe Folsgaard plays one of the soldiers who seems overjoyed to be sending these boys off to their inevitable death, and the character is almost unnecessary – though Folsgaard does well in a role he didn’t need to be cast for. While the film may only take place on the one location (for the most part), the work of cinematographer Camilla Hjelm Knudsen makes excellent use of the seaside locations.
Overall, Land of Mine is one of the most tense and humanistic war films to be released in recent years, and portrays an important and horrific story of the post war years in Denmark.