In post-World War II Denmark, the Danish government puts their hated German prisoners of war to work clearing the 1.5 million landmines from the western beaches of the country. At one such beach, Sgt. Carl Leopold Rasmussen finds himself in charge of one such labor unit and finds they are largely all inexperienced boys. As the boys struggle to complete and survive their dangerous work, Sgt. Rasmussen's hate for Germans gradually cools as he grows to understand the horrific situation these child soldiers are in even as the mines claim more and more victims. Eventually, the boys and the Sergeant must decide what can be done in a situation that would be later be denounced by later generations as the worst war crime committed by the Danish government in its history.Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The use of German children for post WW2 mine sweeping has by many historians been declared as the worst case of war crimes ever conducted by the Danish state. Specifically, it is explicitly forbidden in the Geneva Conventions that any Prisoner of War be forced to perform dangerous and/or unhealthy labor. See more »
The boys keep having the same 'fresh' haircut throughout the movie (that covers three months). It's unlikely that they had a hairdresser around, or even a pair of scissors. See more »
The further the WWII dates back and the more the political correctness enhances, the more difficult it is to create a versatile, realistic film about persons and events with direct connection to it. As it has always been so that history is created and communicated by winners...
Nevertheless, a famous Danish film-maker Martin Zandvliet decided to try and, in principle, succeeded. The characters are versatile, there are no black-and-white approaches (e.g. Germans - bad, the Allies - good), and the actions and logic of events seems realistic (at times predictable though). Performances are at least good, usually even great (Roland Møller as Sgt. Carl Leopold Rasmussen and all youngsters depicting Germans prisoners), and the scenery and skillful camera-work enable to create the mood suitable for such a film.
Perhaps the pace was not always even and the ending was rounded up hastily, but Under sandet is definitely a distinct film not to be mixed up with other war-related works. A month ago it made the shortlist of 9 films to be considered for a nomination at the 89th Academy Awards - let's see how things go.
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