Land of Mine

The occupation may be over, but the scars will never truly be gone. It’s easy to see that Land of Mine, which was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar this year, is about the passing of legacy from one generation to next, of crimes where the next generation shoulders the blame . Danish director Martin Zandvilet tells the tragically unknown story of how the Danish government used German youths on a suicide mission to remove landmines buried on the beaches of Denmark with their bare hands after the Second World War with a deceptive lyricism. The title, of course, carries a double meaning of the bombs that must be removed and ownership of the land. He deploys a calm that winds the tension to nearly unbearable levels, causing one to flinch in anticipation and horror whenever one of the teenage charges steps onto the sand, or worse, finds a telltale wire. So young the boys are, conscripted in the dying days of conflict and unknowing of the horrors their predecessors caused, they spend their precious little downtime playing with beetles found in the sand dunes and making plans for when they return home – there’s a set of twins who wish to be bricklayers. The film dares you to be invested, undergoing a change like the lone sergeant (Roland Moller) sent to supervise. It’s a job he initially does with little empathy before witnessing what the detached authorities responsible for the bloodletting fundamentally misunderstand – they’re children, who are not responsible for what happened. Now, there is no one to blame, leaving only the tragedy to bind.

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