Land of Mine – a movie review by Roz Tarszisz

June 6, 2016 by Roz Tarszisz
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It has been a few weeks since I viewed Land of Mine but images have stayed with me.

A story about removal of land mines is unlikely to be easy viewing but what resonated was the sweet look of determination on one man’s face, when he knew he was likely to die if he took another step, but he took it anyway.

Based on true events, the story opens following the surrender of Germany in May 1945. A group of German prisoners of war, most barely out of their teens, are put to work by their Allied captors. With minimal training, they are sent to locate and disarm some of the hidden two million mines that lie on beaches along Denmark’s west coast.

The Germans are under the supervision of embittered Danish Sergeant Carl Rasmussen (Roland Moller) for whom the experience of being occupied for five years is still raw as he marches his squad out onto the dunes to conduct their daily search.

As the summer days pass, the odds are that not all the men will make it as each slow and painstaking prod of the sand is potential death.  With very little food to sustain them, these young men, still boys really, have to concentrate if they want to survive.  Rasmussen promises that when their stretch of beach is cleared they will be allowed to go home.

The hardened sergeant doesn’t give a toss if they all get blown up, but finds he enjoys talking to Schumann (Louis Hoffman) who has leadership qualities.  When Rasmussen appropriates food for his charges, he runs foul of Lt. Ebbe Jensen (Mikkel Boe Folsgaard) who is in charge of the operation.

The performances are all excellent and we start to like the group for their fairly stoic acceptance of their fate. It was their own army that laid the mines and it seems fair that they have to remove them.

It’s not for the faint hearted but it is compelling and I wanted at least some of them to survive. The story overcame my usual squeamishness to provide powerful viewing with a glimpse of redemption.

4/5  2015  110 minutes In Danish and German with subtitles

Starring Roland Miller, Mikkel Boe Folsgaard, Louis Hofmann, Joe Basman

Directed and written by Martin Zandvliet

Land of Mine appears this month as part of the  Sydney Film Festival.

It will be given theatrical release at a later date.

 

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