Best Foreign Film Oscar nominee (from Denmark) Land of Mine tells a complicated and difficult story—but writer-director Martin Zandvliet more than succeeds.
It’s post-World War II in Denmark, and a group of Nazi youth prisoners of war is tasked with clearing a beach of thousands of mines. Their commander, a Danish sergeant (an excellent Roland Moller), views his crew with contempt at first, treating them harshly. Over time, however, the fact that they are just young boys begins to wear on him, especially when some of them meet their deaths.
The cast is beyond good here, delivering a story that has echoes of All Quiet on the Western Front. It’s a difficult film in that it portrays wartime German soldiers in a sympathetic way; the film will justifiably irritate some. In the end, it’s about the horrors of war, its aftermath, and coping with the hatred and bitterness that follows.
The movie is a heart-wrenching experience, especially regarding the emotional roller coaster endured by Moller’s character. Moller makes everything the sergeant goes through seem authentic and convincing.
Land of Mine is a brutal film—as it should be.
Land of Mine is now playing at the Palm Desert 10 Cinemas (72840 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-340-0033).