When something happens on a scale as huge as WWII, the event is comprised of thousands of narratives, most of which tend to fall through the cracks of history. Land of Mine is a story that could have easily gone without being told, as it documents the almost taboo subject of German suffering directly following the war. Specifically, the young German boys who were made to rid Denmark’s shores of the thousands of mines following the Nazis’ five year occupation. Some precautions were taken, but the Germans were considered expendable and the survival rate was about 50%.
Land of Mine raises many moral questions while also making for a chilling viewing experience. Was this a necessary evil? Should Denmark have handled this differently? Emphasis is given to the youth of the soldiers recruited for this task, but it’s unclear if this was the case for most minesweepers or just the group the film focuses on. Words like “Nazi”, “Third Reich”, or “Führer” are never mentioned, as this story is about what happened once those concepts failed the generation who inherited their crimes.
Director Martin Zandvliet (Applause) does a good job of telegraphing explosions that never come, then rocking you just when you think it’s safe. It’s an intense, sometimes difficult viewing experience with bursts of violence contrasted by beautiful crane shots of Denmark’s beaches and surrounding countryside.
Though not for the faint of heart, Land of Mine is a harsh study of humanity in postwar Europe that should be seen.
SAT SEP 12 11:15 AM @ TIFF Bell Lightbox Cinema 1
SUN SEP 20 3:15 PM @TIFF Bell Lightbox Cinema 2