And this poignant, emotional and striking Danish post-war drama was one of the films there that made it to the Oscars. An editor who eventually switched to writing and directing, Martin Zandvliet, dealt with a dark episode in his country’s history, and “Under Sandet” or “LAND OF MINE” takes us back to the late spring of 1945. After the whole of Europe was finally liberated from the Nazis in May 1945, Wermacht was expelled from Denmark, which he had easily occupied five years earlier. A good part of the German soldiers were captured, and since they assumed during the war that the Allied forces would start landing somewhere, a large part of the Danish coast was mined. We know that the Allies eventually landed in Normandy, but the Danish coast remained laden with mines after the war and the first task was to clear that coast.
The inspiration for the film Zandvliet came from the actual events and the fact that about two thousand German prisoners were hired for this not at all pleasant task. As the war drew to a close and the Wehrmacht ran out of manpower to fill the army, so did more and more teenagers, 15- or 16-year-old beardless kids who were often thrown to the front like cannon fodder and expected to fight the already experienced and motivated Allied soldiers. It is Sergeant Carl Rasmussen (Roland Moller), an enraged and indignant NCO who fought in the war as a British paratrooper, who will be given the task of leading a prisoner of war unit clearing the West Coast of mines. And all those prisoners he will like will be kids aged 15, 16, a maximum of 17 who will have the task of manually clearing the area of mines.
Rasmussen was at first stern, resolute, hostile, and indignant toward them. He holds these unfortunate kids responsible for everything Germany did under Hitler, but over time his hostility and firmness will begin to wane and he will increasingly see in these young people what they really are, children who have no idea. where they were sent and why. But the task is a task and these kids as whose informal leader will turn Sebastian (Louis Hoffman or Jonas Kahnwald from the series “Dark”) will have to find 45 thousand mines before they can go home. And while until recently it was perfectly normal in the film for Nazi soldiers to be portrayed almost regularly exclusively as monsters, monsters, sadistic killers, Zanvliet’s film humanizes these people many of whom found themselves there against their will.
It is all the easier to sympathize with them here because it is quite clear to us that they are literally children. Frightened, starving, almost crying kids who just want to go home to their moms, but the question is how many of them will return at all and how many of them will manage to survive this terrible task. Zandvliet recorded a finely rounded and well-thought-out war-historical drama in which he dealt with an interesting topic that had not been often discussed in the local public until then. “Under Sandet” completely triumphed in the selection for the best Danish film that year, and Camilla Hjelm Knudsen won the European Film Academy Award for Best Photography, which is not surprising because it also plays an important role here and further emphasizes the danger and danger of the whole situations. Rating 8/10.
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