Screened as part of NZIFF 2016

Land of Mine 2015

Under sandet

Directed by Martin Zandvliet

In this tense, moving war drama, based on fact, a Danish sergeant takes charge of a group of youthful German POWs put to work defusing explosives on the coast of Denmark in the immediate aftermath of World War II.

Denmark/Germany In Danish and German with English subtitles
101 minutes CinemaScope/DCP
R13 (violence and content that may disturb)

Director/Screenplay

Producers

Mikael Chr. Rieks
,
Malte Grunert

Photography

Camilla Hjelm Knudsen

Editors

Per Sandholt
,
Molly Malene Stensgaard

Production designer

Gitte Malling

Costume designer

Stefanie Bieker

Music

Sune Martin

With

Roland Møller (Sgt Carl Rasmussen)
,
Louis Hofmann (Sebastian Schumann)
,
Joel Basman (Helmut Morbach)
,
Mikkel Boe Følsgaard (Captain Ebbe)
,
Laura Bro (Karin)
,
Mads Riisom (Peter)
,
Oskar Bökelmann (Ludwig Haffke)
,
Emil Belton (Ernst Lessner)
,
Oskar Belton (Werner Lessner)
,
Leon Seidel (Wilhelm Hahn)

Festivals

Toronto
,
London 2015; Sundance
,
Rotterdam 2016

Former enemies struggle to recognise their shared humanity in this moving and tension-filled drama that draws on a seldom-discussed episode from the end of World War II. Winner of awards and audience prizes at several festivals already, Land of Mine acknowledges Denmark’s punitive treatment of young German POWs held in Denmark after the Nazi surrender.

The film’s protagonists are put to work to search out and disarm mines that had been buried on Danish beaches by the Nazis in anticipation of an Allied invasion. At first, the Danish sergeant Rasmussen (Roland Møller) supervises his youthful charges with vengeful severity. A solitary individual but for the company of his faithful dog, he shows no hesitation in visiting the sins of the Third Reich on its youngest sons, mere boys conscripted as German manpower dwindled.

Gradually, though, the taskmaster finds himself at odds with those whose orders it is his duty to enforce. The tension is absolute, but never needlessly ramped up in Martin Zandvliet’s direction: humane concerns are very much at the centre of his surprisingly poignant film.

“It might seem hard to find a World War II story that hasn’t been told, but Danish director Martin Zandvliet has come up with a fresh and compelling approach… [Land of Mine] rediscovers the past and brings it to life with remarkable assurance… This kind of plea for compassion will never lose its relevance… Land of Mine serves up another vivid rendition of this always timely theme.” — Stephen Farber, Hollywood Reporter