Land of Mine (Under Sandet) (2017)
Critic Consensus: Land of Mine uses an oft-forgotten chapter from the aftermath of World War II to tell a hard-hitting story whose period setting belies its timeless observations about bloodshed and forgiveness.
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Critic Reviews for Land of Mine (Under Sandet)
The saying "no good deed goes unpunished" may ring truer in wartime than in any other; Land of Mine knows it has to go looking elsewhere for the cause of human kindness.
Ham-fisted though the drama might be, this 2015 Danish-German production will almost certainly keep you awake, not least because every few scenes some poor kid is getting blown to bits through fear, incaution, or plain bad luck.
This isn't a war movie; it's an after-the-war movie. But the battle lines are still drawn, and every ragged breath the film takes braces for an explosion.
This is the stuff of nightmares, but also of powerful drama.
"Land of Mine" maintains a resonant level of anxiety throughout. It's exhausting by design.
Audience Reviews for Land of Mine (Under Sandet)
The film is gripping and tense enough to compensate for the main character's problems in characterization - especially his abrupt change in behavior towards the German boys, which comes off as forced and heavy-handed -, and it also benefits from a strong ending.
Knowing that the key elements in this film will consist of German teenager POWs being forced to clear landmines, the brutal consequences are inevitable and there can be no mystery about what awful scenes it must contain. Its point is simple: this is no way to treat children regardless of how Hitler's Germany used them, or what they did in the war. It depicts the vengeful Allies as little better than the enemy, when they are subjecting the boys to inhuman labour, starvation, beatings and humiliation. Bridging the two worlds is the boys' commandant, a Danish sergeant who carries out his orders, but with degrees of compassion. The film begs the questions: what is the right punishment for an oppressor and how far down into the population should it have extended; at what point is following orders a defence to war crimes; how were these boys recruited or conscripted; what would these boys have become, if Nazi Germany had prevailed; what do they symbolise now. And, if the method of clearing the mines was the forced labour of the enemy, in the form of half-starved, sick, scared and degraded teenagers, what guarantee is there even now that the beaches and the other minefields of Europe are safe? The film's ending, while appropriate to the story, leaves the questions open. The Danish sergeant's way is to understand the past, and then to lock it away, never to be repeated, but the unknown factor is how many agree with him - then, or now.
Hard to watch at times, brutal, and thought provoking too. This film shows the dangers of landmines and how costly war can be.
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