Land of Mine is a Danish film that was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and after watching it I completely understand why. Rich in suspense, satisfying payoffs, and both story and character development leads to something that is both simultaneously harrowing and life affirming. This might make my top 10 films of 2017 list.
Set immediately after the Norwegian reoccupation of their country after World War 2, Land of Mine follows the story between a division of German teenage boys and their new Danish Sargent Carl Leopold Rasmussen (Roland Møller) as they clear more than two million mines on the shores of Norway.
What shines through in Land of Mine is how empathy and understanding inside humanity break the banners of both national pride and near demonic hatred that try to consume it. We get that in the first scene of the movie in which Sargent Rasmussen spots one of the surrendered Germans holding a Danish flag and he beats him bloody while screaming “You don’t own this flag!” as he has internalized resentment from the years of German occupation. The division he gains are the teenage boys, who are barely trained in mine defusion. However, slowly but surely the sergeant begins to care for their suffering in an environment where they were seen as a commodity for defusing mines and a liability when they make one fatal mistake.
Beyond the valley of great storytelling and humanity, Land of Mine works as a suspenseful thriller. Great war and horror movies will suck you in by evoking suspense instead of showing the slash scene because the chase is better than the catch in life. In addition to that, Land of Mine has several scenes in which mines detonate. Only one of them I expected. There are several tropes in movies for which I expected Lane of Mine to fall under in terms when a mine would detonate. Only once was I not caught off guard. This movie was just so engrossing on the suspense level.
When the great acting and character development on both the sergeant and the various German boys coupled with the suspense of it all, Land of Mine turns into something special. It’s crazy that war movies, on the whole, are so creative in my opinion that Land of Mine is barely visible of the top tiers of war movies. That’s is fantastic for the war genre. Lane of Mine is a great film and yet I can count several war movies that are better on the top of my head. That is not a negative criticism but an observation. Land of Mine was just an absorbing suspenseful experience. This is the first great film I have seen in over a month and movies like Land Of Mine keep me motivated as I find diamonds in the rough once more ****1/2