Land of Mine
Director: Martin Zandvliet
Cast: Roland Møller, Louis Hofmann, Mikkel Boe Følsgaard, Joel Basman, Laura Bro
Language: Danish and German with English subtitles
Country of Origin: Denmark-Germany 2015 110 mins (15)
Released by Thunderbird Releasing
1945, the end of World War II, German forces have surrendered. 'Land of Mine,' Denmark's entry to this years Oscars for Best Foreign Language Film is powerful and compelling cinema that deals with a little known tragic episode in that country's history, a time of revenge and retribution when German prisoners-of-war, mainly boys were forced to defuse 2.2 million land mines on Denmark's coast line.
The deep rooted hatred of the defeated Germans is vividly portrayed in the opening scene. Veteran, Sergeant Carl Rasmussen (Roland Moller) violently assaults a German soldier carrying a Danish flag. The years of occupation have left deep scars and Carl Rasmussen, tasked with overseeing 14 teenage POWs clearing 45 thousand land mines from Denmark's western coast is savage and relentless in his treatment of the boys - no food or water and questions answered with lies. The enemy will suffer. Mine clearing begins, friendships form within the group and the hope of repatriation remains. Sebastian (Louis Hoffman) assumes leadership of the group, Helmut (Joel Basman) remains cynical, convinced that they'll never return home and the inseparable twin brothers Ernst and Werner (Emil and Oscar Belton) enthusiastically plan their future. With time a bond of friendship and compassion emerges and Sergeant Rasmussen requisitions food, organises a football match on a patch of sand cleared of mines and strives to protect the boys from taunting allied troops and his superior Captain Ebbe Jensen (Mikkel Boe Folgaard) who promised repatriation, when the job's done.
The isolation and beauty of Denmark's Skallingen peninsula, beautifully captured by Camilla Hjelm's stunning cinematography becomes the backdrop for the teenage victims of war and their daily game with death.
A nail biting, emotionally sensitive, edge-of-seat drama with superb performances throughout - Powerful, compelling cinema.