By Mark Saldana
Rating: 4 (Out of 4 Stars)
As World War II came to an end, some German prisoners of war were charged with the perilous task of defusing and removing land mines placed in various strategic locations. Land of Mine tells one particular story of a band of child POWs forced by the Danish to remove mines from along a vast stretch of beach. Writer/director Martin Zandvliet tells this harrowing story in a powerful film full of humanity and tragedy.
The year is 1945 and a band of teenage German soldiers get sent to a prison camp in Denmark under the strict leadership Sergeant Carl Leonard Rassmussen (Roland Møller). The boys undergo fast and intensive training in diffusing and safely removing various types of mines. Rassmussen soon has them working along the West Coast where the young men work long hours with little to no food. Not long after they begin, morale drops dangerously low and the prisoners soon begin to die as they fail to safely diffuse all of the mines.
Martin Zandivet has made a truly superb film with Land of Mine. Not only does he do wonderful work in developing his characters, he does an exceptional job presenting the story with some tremendous scenes involving the work of these children and the heartbreaking moments during their downtime. Zandivet does not shy away from portraying the real atrocities and inhumanity of war, making his statement that much more powerful.
The entire cast of young men offer exceptional work in honoring the real prisoners who were forced to risk life and limb, and actor Roland Moller delivers a phenomenal performance as Sgt. Rassmussen. Though often uneasy and difficult to watch, Land of Mine is a truly extraordinary film that deserves its Oscar nomination for the Best Foreign Language Film of the Year.