There are not many badges of quality in the film industry, but quite often, the Danish Film Institute is one such badge you can have faith in. As subject matters go, World War Two has been fairly exploited but Land of Mine is one particular story yet to be giving the silver screen treatment. After the victory of the allied forces, German soldiers were forced to clear the coastal areas of landmines they deployed in Denmark. Written and directed by Martin Zandvilet, Land of Mine is not just an exercise in sentiment, but a revisionary account upon Denmark’s role over German soldiers in the aftermath of the war. Many who were young boys recruited in desperation by Hitler in their final months.
Mightily embittered Sergeant Carl, Roland Møller, is assigned to clear miles of coastal area. Devoid of sympathy for the Germans, he’s giving several teenagers for the task in hand. The boys are told they can return home once the beach is cleared and with that promise they find motivation to overcome a potential death sentence with one dangerous slip of the finger. Over time, Carl goes turns from guardian to master as he begins to empathise their own status as casualties of war. The boys’ faith and motivation is at a constant threat as comrades are lost. Swearing to keep his promise, Carl’s sympathies are not found acceptable by his superiors and thus his own promise to the boys under major threat.
Land of Mine is geared to having you taken upon an emotional rollercoaster as you are filled with hope and fear with turning points always around the corner. Constantly on the edge, even when you might know what is all set to happen, you cannot help judder at the horror and tragedy that unfolds. Møller is an excellent lead as are the young cast. Zandvilet brings the precise pacing for the setting along with some crisp cinematography courtesy of Camilla Hjelm. Land of Mine is not just another war film, it’s one of the most compelling and harrowing war films to come out this year and one of the leading war films this turn of the century.