Review / ‘Land of Mine’ (MA) **** and a half

THIS is a film about World War II, which ended in Europe several months before it (the film) begins. Germany’s Wehrmacht laid more than 1.5 million land mines along the western shore of Denmark, where they expected the Allied invasion to come ashore. One must gasp with amazement at the thought of the carnage that would have resulted and the possible restructuring of subsequent world history.

Sgt Carl Rasmussen arrives to lay out a zone of beach along which he will command a detachment of German soldiers assigned to lift and defuse 45,000 live mines buried beneath its sand. Rasmussen has served in Britain’s Parachute Regiment. His Danish patriotism is strong. He, like the Danish population broadly, loathes the German people generally and their army in particular.

What Rasmussen’s CO gives him is 14 boy soldiers, mostly in their teens, all traumatised by their experiences and dismayed by the Nazi lies about the war’s purpose.

The film has powerful tensions. Young men must first learn how to perform a task of extreme risk. Rasmussen has a responsibility to make absolutely certain that the beach becomes totally safe.

The German boys believe that when their sector is clear, they will be allowed to return home. Lt Ebbe Jensen (Mikkel Folsgaard) is in no hurry to deliver rations for them. Karin (Laura Bro) who lives on the farm above the beach with her small daughter (Zoe Zandvliet) has no sympathy for them either.

From these fundamental ingredients, writer/director Martin Zandvliet has crafted a film that radiates verity, scares us every time a mine explodes and explores a number of moral and emotional issues, most notably, the responsibility of a victor to deal honourably with the vanquished.

And in a cracking performance, Roland Moller playing Rasmussen typifies the backbone of any effective army, the non-commissioned officer carrying out his orders while caring for his troops.

At Palace Electric

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