Tense, thoughtful ‘Land of Mine’ revisits forgotten episode of WWII


“Land of Mine” is a fictionalized version of a neglected piece of postwar history, detailing the often-ruthless practice of using World War II German prisoners to defuse land mines.

When the war ended, the Danish coast was infested with hundreds of thousands of explosives, placed on the beaches by Germans to repel what Hitler believed would be a massive Allied invasion.

It never came, and in defeat, German prisoners were assigned the deadly job of finding and defusing the bombs.

The victors thought this right and proper at the time, and even today you’d probably find widespread agreement with the idea that those who planted the mines should bear the risk of defusing them.

As we see in the Danish-made “Land of Mine,” the man assigned the job of supervising these German prisoners, Sgt. Rasmussen (Roland Moller), certainly holds this view. In an early scene, he stops a POW who’s carrying a purloined flag, a souvenir of the war, and beats the man to a bloody pulp.

Later Rasmussen is assigned to supervise a squad of poorly trained prisoners on a remote Danish beach. War has hardened him, and he is initially and authentically uninterested in the appalling mortality rate suffered by the men.

Despite efforts to keep the prisoners at arms’ length, he begins to befriend a few. The Germans are glaringly young, just teens, dragged into the war in its desperate final months, and the older Rasmussen gradually succumbs to an obligation to be a father to them.

It’s a lonely outpost, just the sergeant and the prisoners and miles of empty beach – a spare and desolate place (beautifully photographed), an isolation that leaves Rasmussen with the latitude to create his own moral order. They are starving, he brings them food. They are exhausted, he gives them a day off. He allows them to devise safer methods of finding ordnance. This causes friction with other allied officers, many of whom are still fighting the war, still eyeing the prisoners as combatants.

Here the movie takes the idea of defusing dangerous explosives and makes it symbolic. The United States and its allies eventually saw the wisdom of rebuilding defeated nations to avoid a repeat of post-World War I dynamics.

Rasmussen becomes a one-man Marshall Plan, sensing that the inhumane treatment of the prisoners risks repeating a cycle of violent humiliation.

That made him atypical. Of the 2,000 Germans assigned to defuse bombs on Danish beaches, 1,000 were killed.

MOVIE REVIEW

“Land of Mine”

Grade: B

Starring Mikkel Boe Følsgaard, Laura Bro and Roland Møller. Directed by Martin P. Zandvliet.

Rated R for violence, some grisly images, and language. Check listings for theaters. 1 hours, 40 minutes.

Bottom line: A post-war history that takes the idea of defusing explosives and makes it symbolic



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Living

Book fest boasts 17 days of literary treats
Book fest boasts 17 days of literary treats

For two weeks in November, the Book Festival of the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta occupies the sweet spot between major publishers’ fall release dates and the start of the gangbusters-for-books holiday shopping season. But even in its 26th year, it’s not as easy as it sounds arranging 45 authors and almost as many...
Bob Whitfield off the Regular Guys on The Fan 2 on 1230/106.3
Bob Whitfield off the Regular Guys on The Fan 2 on 1230/106.3

Bob Whitfield spent less than three months on the Regular Guys on 1230 but David Dickey hopes to find him a new gig on 1340 next year. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com Posted Friday, October 20, 2017 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog Less than three months ago, the newly revamped Regular Guys led by ...
Scarlett Johansson, Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans will appear at the Fox Theatre to aid Puerto Rico

Scarlett Johansson pitched a unique idea to aid storm-ravaged Puerto Rico and her fellow Marvel stars  Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans and  Mark Ruffalo have signed on: They’ll perform a reading of “Our Town” at the Fox Theatre on Nov. 6. Kenny Leon will...
Nick Cannon gets wild in Atlanta with live version of hit MTV show
Nick Cannon gets wild in Atlanta with live version of hit MTV show

Nick Cannon and the Wild N’ Out crew are headed to Atlanta for “ Nick Cannon Presents: Wild N’ Out Live,” a live version of MTV hit show of the same name . For 10 years, Wild N’ Out has been an MTV staple, helping to launch the careers of some of the best known names in comedy ...
The Masquerade staying put at Underground Atlanta long term
The Masquerade staying put at Underground Atlanta long term

The new Masquerade. Photo: Elena de Soto Posted Friday, October 20, 2017 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on Melissa Ruggieri’s AJC Music Scene blog Melissa is on vacation so I’m helping her out with breaking news: The Masquerade, the long-time gritty concert venue, has decided to stay put at Underground Atlanta. Management has signed a long-term...
More Stories