Directed by Pieter Zandvliet
Country: Denmark / Germany
Martin Pieter Zandvliet’s “Land of Mine”, a fictional drama centered on the landmine clearance of the Danish West coast in the aftermath of the WWII, is simultaneously cruel and humane.
To accomplish this hazardous mission, a high-ranked official, Sgt. Carl Rasmussen (Roland Møller), is assign to command a group of young German soldiers, turned prisoners of war, who before being sent to the desolated beaches along the coast, receive their first training sessions on how to disarm landmines, explosive devices that most of them have never seen before. The insensible Lt. Ebbe Jensen (Mikkel Boe Følsgaard), who really doesn’t care if the soldiers die or live, gives the first instructions.
After being minimally trained, they join the implacable Sgt. Rasmussen, who despite the violent first scenes, in which he humiliates a German soldier, shows not to be so heartless as he seemed.
He gets surprised when he realizes that the platoon under his orders is just made of a few homesick, hungry boys who still call for their mom when something goes wrong. They’re really young and innocuous.
After a flash adaptation to the job and a few lamentable incidents, the boys, acting fast and accurate, gain the desired experience and also the fondness of their leader, who starts to treat them in a more humane way, even protecting them from external abusers.
Expecting to go home after the job done, as they were promised, the team removes 1200 landmines but the reality that awaits them is very different.
The film follows similar lines as Paul Katis’ “Kajaki” without reaching its highly absorbing levels.
Mr. Zandvliet often struggles to give the film an original perspective, in the same manner that he struggles to build his characters with a fully shaped dimension. One issue resides in the constant radical changes in posture observed on Sgt. Rasmussen, which feels contrived.
Using a moderated pace to get his ideas flowing, Mr. Zandvliet, who also wrote the screenplay, recurrently pushes this dramatic game of nerves to the limit.