DVD Movie Review: Land of Mine

By Thom Compton 03.02.2018

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Land of Mine (UK Rating: 15)

To call World War II barbaric would be a great disservice. Barbaric doesn't even begin to cover the wide array of adjectives that could be used to describe a global conflict that was largely framed around the atrocities of the Holocaust. Germany struck out to dominate the globe, and in the process became a killing machine that now, not even a hundred years later, has tried to dismantle any remnants of its unsavoury past.

Land of Mine - out now on DVD via Thunderbird Releasing in the UK - isn't about that. Instead, it is about the line between monster and victim. Even reading the film's synopsis is enough to make one cringe. German POWs, in this case only teenage boys, arrive in Denmark to perform one task: remove land mines from the beaches - by hand. All of these land mines are active still, so they will also be disarming the devices. It's a haunting story, and it works magnificently on film. Every moment feels so natural, and gut-wrenching, that by the end of the run time it's hard not to feel like you have watched someone perform a tightrope act, surrounded by razor wire.


 
Every moment the boys spend crawling on their stomachs, digging out the mines, is absolutely nail-biting. Death is inevitable, and Land of Mine doesn't bother sugar-coating anything about it. In fact, some of the most haunting deaths are the least graphic, and the most matter of fact of the lot. Growing to feel attached to these boys is remarkably easy, as well, as the sergeant in charge of the whole affair learns all too well. While much of the Danish army views these boys are expendable pawns, he grows to view them as human beings.

Land of Mine only stumbles in some of its performances and pacing. One young man reads his lines in an almost robotic fashion, while a woman (one of the few to appear in the film) only really shows up to stare at the young men in disgust. The weird thing is that, after a while, the deaths grow incredibly predictable, as do the events that transpire in-between them. One particularly white knuckle scene ends exactly as might be expected. In fact, most of the final scenes end verbatim how you would probably expect - save one. It doesn't ruin the film, but it does make viewers wish they could un-think ahead at the possibilities for each scene to play out.

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10
A morally conflicting film that seems to almost ask viewers to forget what Germany did during the Second World War, and instead focus on their own sense of humanity. By playing on the temptation to treat to these boys based on their birth place, and asking the audience to view them as human beings, Land of Mine reminds that not everyone from a bad place is actually bad. While it does eventually find itself in a worn out pacing motion, where events play out as expected, it never loses its truly gut-wrenching effect. These are young boys, and no matter what their country had done, they are still victims in this land.

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