|Title:||Land of Mine|
|Cast:||Roland Møller, Louis Hofmann, Joel Basman.|
|Released:||March 31, 2016|
|Playing time:||100 minutes|
Some war movies are highly original as to themes and "Land of Mine" (2016) is exactly that. At the end of the war in 1945 and right after, German mines and bombs lay scattered everywhere in Europe and also on the Danish coast. German soldiers had laid thousands of mines on beaches and in dunes to protect the coasts of Europe against possible attacks by the Allies. This Danish movie describes how German prisoners-of-war, child soldiers, had to clear mines on the Danish coast, an extremely dangerous operation. Without tools or state of the art equipment, the Germans had to clear mines with their bare hands. The movie paints a realistic picture of the circumstances under which this took place. The men clearing the mines were often undernourished, emaciated and exhausted. This exhaustion could cause a decrease in powers of concentration, sometimes with fatal consequences.
A Danish sergeant, Carl Rasmussen is to see that the mines are cleared by the child soldiers. Rasmussen hates Germans. It clearly emerges from the movie: small insults, name calling and physical violence. As the movie proceeds, we see Rasmussen become more lenient, He fetches food for the German child soldiers and plays football with them. His tone becomes harsher again when he sees his dog dying from a not yet cleared mine. We continuously see the sergeant wrestling with his conscience: from hate to compassion and vice versa. The Dane himself has probably suffered great misery during the war, caused by the Germans. Human emotions which cannot be played down but can be explained by the trauma of World War Two.
The German mines are Tellers Type 42: a sort of flattened mushroom. Those mines are used against tanks and are very powerful. The scenes showing how the Germans clear the mines are very realistic: they prick in the sand with bars or sticks, listening for a metallic sound. Some of them manage to defuse mines, others do not survive the clearing operation. A scene in which a child soldier looses his hands is particularly shocking and unfit for juvenile viewers.
Revenge and humiliation are 2 themes that play an important role in the movie. The Germans are evil and must be punished, so the Allied representatives in the movie think; an attitude that was rather normal after the war. They don’t care whether the German child soldiers are responsible for the mine laying or not. If the Allied troops really had had any compassion, they would have deployed Sherman tanks to clear the mines (the Sherman Crab or Flail tank) or dropped bombs from aircraft in order to explode the mines. Some people are evil by nature and sadists can be found anywhere, not only in the Wehrmacht or in the Waffen-SS but in the Danish, British or American armies as well. The movie makes this very clear. Despite this negative message, the movie also offers hope.
"Land of Mine" is a very realistic, original war movie. From beginning to end, the movie manages to captivate and is one in which human emotions play an important role. In my opinion it is a good thing that the post war deployment of German prisoners-of-war to clear mines, which by the way also occurred in the Netherlands, is made discussable, in part thanks to this movie.