A young free-minded German 14 year old boy in a northern Lower Saxony province town is in love with his mother. His stepfather identifies him as a competitor, and has him brought to a ... See full summary »
In the last moments of World War II, a young German soldier fighting for survival finds a Nazi captain's uniform. Impersonating an officer, the man quickly takes on the monstrous identity of the perpetrators he is trying to escape from.
Ove, an ill-tempered, isolated retiree who spends his days enforcing block association rules and visiting his wife's grave, has finally given up on life just as an unlikely friendship develops with his boisterous new neighbors.
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 (email@example.com)
It is believed that more than 2,000 German soldiers were forced to remove mines, and nearly half of them lost their lives or limbs. 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 »
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After the war, more than 2000 German prisoners were forced to remove over 1.5 million landmines from Denmark's west coast.
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Nearly half of them were killed or severely wounded.
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Many were barely more than children.
See more »
Disturbing, Disquieting & Devastating, 'Land Of Mine' Is Essential Cinema
Nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the upcoming Academy Awards, Land of Mine (also known as Under sandet) is a disturbing, disquieting & devastating cinema that's inspired from the immoral & inhuman act that the Danish authorities perpetrated against German POWs, majority of whom were teenagers, following the end of the Second World War in Europe.
Set in post-World War II Denmark, the story of Land of Mine follows a Danish Sergeant who is assigned the duty to defuse & remove over 2 million mines that were buried by the Germans along the coast during the war. Receiving a batch of teenage Germans POWs to carry out the operation, the Sergeant's initial hostility towards them begins to undergo an unexpected change.
Written & directed by Martin Zandvliet, the film opens with a crucial sequence that establishes the seething hatred that the Sergeant has against Germans and takes it up from there. Every segment featuring the young boys trying to defuse the mines with their bare hands despite being obviously ill-equipped to carry out the dangerous task is nail-biting as hell and even more hard-hitting when they fail at it.
Zandvliet's direction exhibits terrific restraint from start to finish and even more admirable is how he handles the characters & their arcs. Without choosing a side, he puts believable people on screen and keeps all their human attributes in tact, whether they are Danish or Germans. And while the hostile nature of the former against the latter is understandable, what the Danish authorities force them to do is equally inexcusable.
Shot at historically authentic locations, the entire picture is splendidly photographed and the era of Denmark recovering from the war is wonderfully captured by its desaturated & earthy colour tones. Camera-work is hand-held, static & expertly controlled for the most part and allows the scenes to play out at their desired pace but the longer it lingers on the defusing process, the more suspenseful it becomes and majority of the time, ends on a heartbreaking note.
Editing is skilfully carried out, for every single minute of its 1½ hour narrative is accounted for & is relevant to the plot. Every sequence on the beach is compelling & handled with patience and every explosion or casualty reverberates with the audience & the impact of it is deeply felt. The film does feel longer than its runtime but it is relentlessly gripping till the end. And further enhancing its grim aura is the poignant score that always surfaces on time.
Coming to the performances, Land of Mine features an incredibly committed cast in Roland Møller, Louis Hofmann & others, with Hofmann impressing the most. Møller is in as the Sergeant overseeing the mine clearing operation and expresses his character's inner conflict brilliantly while Hofmann plays one of the young boys performing the fatal, endless task of defusing millions of buried mines with stunning balance, and the scenes between the two are its main highlight.
On an overall scale, Land of Mine not only ranks amongst the best films of its year but is one of the finest films to come out from Cinema of Denmark. Incessantly human, powerfully moving & making a strong statement about what makes us human & why it's even more important to stay as one in times of bitter conflict, this Danish masterpiece is an extremely riveting example of its genre that treads a difficult path & is utterly discomforting at times yet manages to fully redeem itself in the end. An essential viewing by all means, this Danish masterpiece comes very highly recommended.
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