[Editor’s Note: I watched Land of Mine before the Oscars, but couldn’t publish it until March 10, so keep that in mind.]
In my attempt to prepare for the Oscars, I was able to see the Denmark film, Land of Mine, making it my second to last film in that category. Most years I see 0-2 of the foreign films, so I am quite surprised I made it this far. I haven’t reviewed them all, but damn it, I reviewed some.
Now sure, it is a foreign film about World War II, and we are chock full of World War II films, but for the most part, they come from an American/English/German perspective. So a Danish WWII film has the potential to offer up something new on the subject, and a hope to have a new story worth telling.
And please not just be a film about boot camp and normal war tropes.
The film begins with the end of World War II. The Germans have surrendered after the suicide of Adolf Hitler, and now reparations are being made.
For this film, we are focusing on landmines (thus the title), thousands of them placed on the Denmark coast by the Nazi soldiers. They have maps of each landmine of course, because they needed it to get out of the area, so the Danish government has said that the German soldiers need to disarm and remove them.
Germany has sent over a group of soldiers to take care of it. However, these soldiers are all men in their teens. They were forced to join the army in the final months, given the need of bodies, and probably didn’t do anything terrible in their short time. But they were given to this dangerous job so that the older soldiers with more clout could go back home. They were a sacrifice.
Sgt. Carl Rasmussen (Roland Møller) is in charge of training these soldiers on how to properly dissarm and remove them. He is hard on them, because damn it, they are Nazis. But he also needs them to do a good job, because he doesn’t want his own men to get rid of the bombs, and he doesn’t need them all dying leaving thousands of mines left to go.
It is a grueling process, and every time someone makes a mistake, body parts go flying and their life is cut short. But they are promised when they finish the beach, they can go home. They have something to work towards. As long as they can make it.
Also starring Louis Hofmann, Joel Basman, Mikkel Boe Følsgaard, Emil Belton, and Oskar Belton.
My years of minesweeper playing has taught me that they should be placing red flags.
Yep, as I already mentioned we got another WW2 war film. Thankfully, this one is heavy on the drama, and weak on the war. Taking place after the war is helpful in that regard. It still has some graphic violence of course. Given that we are dealing with land mines, it should not be surprising that some people blow up thanks to these minds.
And those scenes were gross. But they were realistic.
Land of Mine tells a story that decades ago no one would want to tell. No one wants to here the plight of the Nazi. But these kids were barely Nazis, barely adults, and didn’t deserve to die either.
Land of Mine is well acted, but hard to watch at times. And hard to hear at other times. But a worthy foreign film to be nominated.
3 out of 4.