Land of Mine (Under Sandet)

Don't hold it against writer/director Martin Zandvliet's land-mine drama that its English title is the dopiest movie-title pun since John Singleton's Poetic Justice. That film concerned a poet named Justice; Land of Mine a land of mines. Called Under Sandet in the original Danish -- roughly Under the Sand -- Zandvliet's tense, prickly third feature finds a squad of pubescent German soldiers enlisted after their führer's death to help clean up his mess. In this case, that means a slow, terrifying sweep of the beaches of Denmark, where the Nazis had buried tens of thousands of land mines. The boys lie facedown and inch along, tapping gently with metal rods, every couple feet turning up a bomb that they then must disarm. What other story has 45,000 Chekhov's guns just waiting to go off?

The scenario is based in historical fact, but the incidents and characters are invented. That allows for variety in the suspense scenes -- no two crew members go out the same way. Zandvliet scores in his scenes of high suspense, leaving you to wince and suck in your breath, anticipating the boom. (Or he does so until you figure out his tell.) What truly kept me guessing was whether or not Land of Mine would ever become the inspirational-coach movie it continually hints at: Roland Møller (A Highjacking) stars as a hardass Danish officer tasked with getting the boys to clear the beach. The film is sometimes too sentimental, too predictable in its drift, but electric in individual moments.

Credits

Director:

  • Martin P. Zandvliet

Cast:

  • Roland Møller
  • Mikkel Boe Følsgaard
  • Laura Bro

Writer:

  • Martin P. Zandvliet

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