» » Under sandet (2015)

Under sandet (2015) Online

Under sandet (2015) Online
Original Title :
Under sandet
Genre :
Movie / Drama / History / War
Year :
Directror :
Martin Zandvliet
Cast :
Roland Møller,Louis Hofmann,Joel Basman
Writer :
Martin Zandvliet
Budget :
DKK 35,500,000
Type :
Time :
1h 40min
Rating :

In post-World War II Denmark, a group of young German POWs are forced to clear a beach of thousands of land mines under the watch of a Danish Sergeant who slowly learns to appreciate their plight.

Under sandet (2015) Online

In post-World War II Denmark, the Danish government puts their hated German prisoners of war to work clearing the 1.5 million landmines from the western beaches of the country. At one such beach, Sgt. Carl Leopold Rasmussen finds himself in charge of one such labor unit and finds they are largely all inexperienced boys. As the boys struggle to complete and survive their dangerous work, Sgt. Rasmussen's hate for Germans gradually cools as he grows to understand the horrific situation these child soldiers are in even as the mines claim more and more victims. Eventually, the boys and the Sergeant must decide what can be done in a situation that would be later be denounced by later generations as the worst war crime committed by the Danish government in its history.
Cast overview, first billed only:
Roland Møller Roland Møller - Sgt. Carl Rasmussen
Louis Hofmann Louis Hofmann - Sebastian Schumann
Joel Basman Joel Basman - Helmut Morbach
Mikkel Boe Følsgaard Mikkel Boe Følsgaard - Lt. Ebbe Jensen
Laura Bro Laura Bro - Karin
Zoe Zandvliet Zoe Zandvliet - Elisabeth, Karins Daughter (as Zoé Zandvliet)
Mads Riisom Mads Riisom - Soldier Peter
Oskar Bökelmann Oskar Bökelmann - Ludwig Haffke
Emil Belton Emil Belton - Ernst Lessner
Oskar Belton Oskar Belton - Werner Lessner
Leon Seidel Leon Seidel - Wilhelm Hahn
Karl Alexander Seidel Karl Alexander Seidel - Manfred
Maximilian Beck Maximilian Beck - August Kluger
August Carter August Carter - Rudolf Selke
Tim Bülow Tim Bülow - Hermann Marklein

The film was shot at historically authentic locations, including in Oksbøllejren and areas in Varde.

The use of German children for post WW2 mine sweeping has by many historians been declared as the worst case of war crimes ever conducted by the Danish state. Specifically, it is explicitly forbidden in the Geneva Conventions that any Prisoner of War be forced to perform dangerous and/or unhealthy labor.

In the movie the Danish Sgt. Rasmussen lead the mine clearing operation. In real life these missions were controlled by the British forces, but with German Officers in command of each team.

The actors were trained in mine clearance 'anno 1945' at the Military Training Compound 'Oksbøl'. During training they found a 'live' mine. It had been there for seventy-plus years - and was in fine working condition. The mine was removed and disarmed by the danish de-mining experts.

It is believed that more than 2,000 German soldiers were forced to remove mines, and nearly half of them lost their lives or limbs.

Selected as Denmark's submission for the Foreign Language Film Award at the 89th Academy Awards.

Director Martin Pieter Zandvliet mentioned that when filming "Land of Mine," the young actors didn't know when they were going to be killed off, and were sent home each time it happened. This led to the actors feeling increasingly lonely and isolated as filming went on, similar to their characters in the movie.

User reviews



This unbearably tense war movie is the Danish entry for this year's Best Foreign Language film. It's about a group of young German POW's who are forced to clear a minefield with their bare hands and it makes "The Hurt Locker" seem like a walk in the park. Brilliantly directed by Martin Zandvleit and beautifully played by a cast of mostly unfamiliar faces, this is an intelligent and unsentimental look a a piece of World War Two history usually ignored by the cinema and it has the courage to paint 'the enemy' in a good light and 'the allies' as villains. It's also beautifully shot in widescreen by Camilla Hjelm. See this.


We love to hate the Nazis—Inglourious Basterds, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Schindler's List. They're the most reliable bad guys in cinema. And, as World War II and Denmark's Nazi occupation ends in Martin Zandvliet's Land of Mine, they're the most reliable bad guys to Danish Sgt. Carl Rasmussen. Land of Mine opens on Carl beating a surrendered and retreating Nazi soldier to a pulp.

We mind, but not too much.

Cue the German boys and Zandvliet's chosen untold true story of WWII — the Danish military force 2,000 young, surrendered German soldiers to clear nearly two million German mines from the beaches of Denmark. Half survive.

The middle-aged Sgt. Carl receives command of a dozen such baby- faced Germans to rid one Denmark beach of its 45,000 mines. Through his early cruelty, he keeps them uniformed and in strict military formation. But uniforms quietly slip into plain clothes, and lines, into free-form playing boys who mirror the lush, rolling landscapes of Carl's beloved Denmark. Predictably, Carl lacks the wherewithal to enforce the starvation and mistreatment of his Nazis subordinates once he sees them as mere boys, who already fear daily they will be maimed or killed by mines. The boy soldiers become his sons—he steals food for them, plays with them, and forgives them. The only real question becomes the lengths to which Carl will go to protect them.

Zandvliet tells his unknown story through unknown actors (this was the feature film debut for most of the boys). This casting choice provides us a fresh start, access to a new and unexpected world where mistreatment of Nazis ushers us out of a theater in tears and silence. German or Dane, the characters are unavoidably human, capable of both love and hate, both self-sacrifice and utter butchery. That cruel Nazi flare we've come to expect from cinema's WWII Germans is, here, wielded not by Germans but by Danes—Carl nearly beating to death the retreating soldier, Lt. Jensen sending the German boys to another minefield rather than home as promised, the Danish mother sneering a wish for the German boys' death.

Yet, despite its cruelty, Land of Mine is a tale of love. At first, Carl's love for his country and its land is placed in direct opposition to any possible love for the German boys under his command. The Germans destroyed Denmark's land with buried mines. Love for this land leads the Danes to hazard the lives of the German youth to restore it. The problem for Carl and his Danish comrades is not an utter lack of love but a limit to its breadth. Carl intuitively loves his land, his dog, his people. But it is only through an unlikely grace—the burden of the mines, jointly carried— that he learns to love his enemy.

In the end, Carl's love for the land merges with his love for the German boys. And Land of Mine ushers us away with one last thrilling landscape. It is not Danish. Nor is it German. It's both.


My dear friend Ilario, a cultured movie buff, had warmly suggested this film these past days, among the many he mentions and those we get to talk about, and I could perceive that he had figured how this "Land of Mine" would strike many chords with me. And it did; I watched it in original German/Danish with English subs (shaky at times, but OK), and the immersion was immediate from the impactful start. I'm sensitive to war scenarios and characters – especially lesser told ones – as this story tactfully paints a very sad, cruel and almost hopeless reality. The Sergeant is a great figure, the kids are true to life, the skies and beaches cold and lonely too. And full of death. "Under Sandet", instead, is full of cinematographic art.


Several World War II stories are not told in the books, being forgotten over time. Inspired by true events, the film Under Sandet (original title) or Land of Mine (in English) addresses one of these reports, which occurred in Denmark after the war. Fearing that a possible Allied invasion would take place from the Danish coast, Nazi Germany filled the entire length of Denmark's west coast with over 1.5 million mines. With the German surrender and the end of the war in May 1945, more than 2,000 German prisoners of war were sent to disarm those landmines. The story focuses on a small group of young Germans who have the hard and dangerous task of clearing 45,000 mines from a danish beach to gain freedom.

The film, written and directed by Martin Zandvliet, is an excellent motion picture, managing to bring to the screen a work with a new approach, although all the other war films ever made before. With an original script, the director succeeds to convey the bitterness brought by five years of Nazi occupation in Denmark. He also portrays the exploitation of children dragged into war. One of the great successes of Zandvliet's direction and script is to show the war cycles: the winners, the danes, start to adopt the brutal practices of the losers, the Germans. It was precisely for situations like this that the Second World War broke out. France and other winning countries of World War required repairs and imposed absurd sanctions to Germany.

The photography, by Camilla Hjelm, is to behold. And here, again, we have to highlight the director's work. The use of long shot captures the beautiful danish landscape, while more intimate moments allow us to monitor the interactions among those soldiers. Maintaining an intense pace, the tranquility and vastness of the beach are contrasted, at all times, with the danger that awaits them "under the sand", expression that names the film. The soundtrack is catchy and at times heartbreaking, fitting in the drama narrated in the film.

One of the elements that makes Land of Mine a memorable experience is the excellent performance of Roland Møller, playing the role of Sergeant Carl Rasmussen, protagonist of the story. Responsible to oversee the group of German soldiers, Carl struggle to separate his military duties from the hatred he feels for the old enemy. The actor delivered a complex character, moody, bitter and angry, but at the same time which has not lost humanity that exists within him. The rest of the cast was also well chosen and psychologically developed, in which the actors who play the soldiers have different personalities.

With a philosophical discussion about military conflicts as well as being very intense and beautiful, Under Sandet gives us a real view of the complexities of the Second World War and human behavior.

Originally posted in: https://vikingbyheart.blogspot.com.br


Nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the upcoming Academy Awards, Land of Mine (also known as Under sandet) is a disturbing, disquieting & devastating cinema that's inspired from the immoral & inhuman act that the Danish authorities perpetrated against German POWs, majority of whom were teenagers, following the end of the Second World War in Europe.

Set in post-World War II Denmark, the story of Land of Mine follows a Danish Sergeant who is assigned the duty to defuse & remove over 2 million mines that were buried by the Germans along the coast during the war. Receiving a batch of teenage Germans POWs to carry out the operation, the Sergeant's initial hostility towards them begins to undergo an unexpected change.

Written & directed by Martin Zandvliet, the film opens with a crucial sequence that establishes the seething hatred that the Sergeant has against Germans and takes it up from there. Every segment featuring the young boys trying to defuse the mines with their bare hands despite being obviously ill-equipped to carry out the dangerous task is nail-biting as hell and even more hard-hitting when they fail at it.

Zandvliet's direction exhibits terrific restraint from start to finish and even more admirable is how he handles the characters & their arcs. Without choosing a side, he puts believable people on screen and keeps all their human attributes in tact, whether they are Danish or Germans. And while the hostile nature of the former against the latter is understandable, what the Danish authorities force them to do is equally inexcusable.

Shot at historically authentic locations, the entire picture is splendidly photographed and the era of Denmark recovering from the war is wonderfully captured by its desaturated & earthy colour tones. Camera-work is hand-held, static & expertly controlled for the most part and allows the scenes to play out at their desired pace but the longer it lingers on the defusing process, the more suspenseful it becomes and majority of the time, ends on a heartbreaking note.

Editing is skilfully carried out, for every single minute of its 1½ hour narrative is accounted for & is relevant to the plot. Every sequence on the beach is compelling & handled with patience and every explosion or casualty reverberates with the audience & the impact of it is deeply felt. The film does feel longer than its runtime but it is relentlessly gripping till the end. And further enhancing its grim aura is the poignant score that always surfaces on time.

Coming to the performances, Land of Mine features an incredibly committed cast in Roland Møller, Louis Hofmann & others, with Hofmann impressing the most. Møller is in as the Sergeant overseeing the mine clearing operation and expresses his character's inner conflict brilliantly while Hofmann plays one of the young boys performing the fatal, endless task of defusing millions of buried mines with stunning balance, and the scenes between the two are its main highlight.

On an overall scale, Land of Mine not only ranks amongst the best films of its year but is one of the finest films to come out from Cinema of Denmark. Incessantly human, powerfully moving & making a strong statement about what makes us human & why it's even more important to stay as one in times of bitter conflict, this Danish masterpiece is an extremely riveting example of its genre that treads a difficult path & is utterly discomforting at times yet manages to fully redeem itself in the end. An essential viewing by all means, this Danish masterpiece comes very highly recommended.


This was a very well written and acted movie. The production level was very good and after viewing it, I don't think it was a very expensive movie to film. Yet it might be one of the best films I have seen from 2015. I really liked the story line here. Post WWII with a real feel for the era. You had a very real sense that the anger these people were feeling was real. There are parts in the movie where you just had to think WOW it just got real. From the very beginning they were not going to hold back. You could really feel the emotional message of the movie.

The movie is not for people who like happy endings. This is a very powerful story that sucks you in, and it holds you there in suspense. It's like watching a train wreck. It's great entertainment but the outcome is simply horrifying as you know what is coming down the tracks. It is filled with anger, fear and dread. But also human connection, reflection, and the propensity for humans to know the moral right. There is no way you can look at this movie and say there is a "happy ending". Instead it gives you a real glimpse of the complexities of post WWII mechanics and human character.

There is simply no way to look past the harsh realities of this film. It speaks to who we are and how human beings react. But it also shows that while we may not be innocent, we try to preserve others who we think are.


You watch so often heroes in war with a Hollywood point of view but in this case you're receiving a story which shows how the war really is. I'm coming from a city and a country that has lived the war and the human conflict of This movie goes beyond all Borders and frontiers. I feel so related with the story. I'm not the a film expert but for me this is a masterpiece. This movie teach us all about war, about life, about death, hate and love, how About losers and winners. I recommend this movie for all those people that Think war is the solution. This story talks about a very distant country for me but thanks the magic of filmmaking I feel it so close to my story and my Country. Apparently simple, obviously beautiful. Greetings.


A dark blot on Danish post-war history finally put solidly on record and irrefutably so at that. Or at least that is what one would have thought. Having lived many years in the exact place where this takes place, the hateful remarks made towards these German conscripts were not grabbed from thin air and can be heard even today. Even in the audience at the cinema, some 70 years after the fact, there were occasional crude remarks when the teenagers had their limbs torn off. War, however horrible, ends at some point; the innate hatred towards faceless representatives of the enemy is long lived and utterly unnerving to watch.

The sere landscape of Skallingen and Blåvandshuk makes for a beautiful backdrop to this fine and thought provoking drama. My only complaint was that the house where they are lodged, although correct for both period and location, appears too old fashioned, which may add to the feeling of something that happened a long time ago. There were more modern facilities in the area at that time, which would have been easier for us in this day and age to relate to. But that is nitpicking.


In matters of war, no nation is free of guilt. Regardless of whether they are produced by victorious or vanquished countries, the better war films set out facts, acknowledge wrongdoing, express regret, and seek atonement. Many of them put guilt and culpability onto the widescreen so that current and future generations may learn from the past. This is the psychological space in which we find the extraordinary Danish-German war film Land of Mine (2016).

It is 1945 and the war is over, but the beautiful Danish coastline has two million deadly mines left buried in the sand by the Nazi occupation. Danish Sergeant Carl Rasmussen (Roland Møller) is assigned a squad of fourteen German prisoners of war who must clear a beach that contains 45,000 active mines. The Sergeant's treatment of the teenage boys is initially brutal: they live and work in terrible conditions, are practically starved and constantly reminded that everyone in Denmark hates them and nobody cares if they live or die. Their task is to crawl along the beach by hand, poking a stick in the sand to locate mines, then defuse them before they explode. Inevitably, many failed. With echoes of Stockholm syndrome, both captor and captives find glimpses of humanity in each other that leads to Rasmussen being suspected by his tormenting superiors of going soft on the Germans. He must walk the fine line between military obedience, personal hatred of Nazis, and his growing compassion and realisation that these are just boys who were conscripted into battle. His characterisation and its transition from hatred to acceptance frames the narrative of this high-tension drama.

Stunningly realistic cinematography with minute attention to detail amplifies the horror of this story. The acting is remarkable from a mostly unknown cast and Rasmussen's performance captures the very essence of moral conflict. The mine-clearing proceeds inch-by-agonising-inch, and the film's plot line inches forward at a similar pace. With camera at sand-level, we see close-up images of teenage warriors with beads of terror trickling down their faces as their sand-covered fingers slowly un-screw a detonator from a mine, knowing that an explosion will tear their body to pieces. These are some of the most heart-pulse racing moments you can experience through film. This is not entertainment nor is it for faint-hearted viewers; several scenes are horrific.

Most war films glorify battle or corner us into cheering one side or the other. This film presents an exquisite conundrum: was it morally acceptable for the Danish military to force German POWs to remove the deadly mines that the Nazi army left behind, knowing that most will die or be maimed? Or should this deadly work have been carried out by Danish soldiers? Was the inhumane treatment of teenage soldiers justifiable, regardless of the brutality of the Nazi occupation of Denmark? In the light of such questions, is this film one of justification or a confessional that seeks atonement? Land of Mine shines a bright light on what has hitherto been a dark secret of Danish history. It is a powerful and important story.


What an excellent movie! Good actors, wonderful scenes, great plot. The Movie brings the feels to the audience so you can feel with them. Every second is as exciting as the second before. Maybe one of the best films in Denmark. Especially Leon Seidel plays his role perfect in every way. And all other Boys and Guys and Women are necessary and play an important role for the film. Martin Zandvliet created an film for the past and the future which entertains and teaches everyone. The film includes a dark past of Denmark. Young Boys are forced to disarm mines and this will be a deadly experience. If you watch Land of Mine you will not regret it. Thanks to everyone.


A Danish war-drama that was inspired by the historical account, but all the characters were fictional. Remember this title for another six month, because I am confident this film will make a journey to the west coast of the USA to compete at the 89th Academy Awards in the coming February. I have seen many foreign films, but I'm not this much positive for any others. If this film fails to make, then that would be a great disappointment despite having no idea of what are the other four films. So this is just for now, my stance may change later.

Anyway, the film was heartbreakingly amazing. The WWII stories I had seen those told from the perspectives of the Australian, Japanese, Korean, Russian to African and European to the American western sea, Hawaii. And this is a Danish story, sets in just after the end of the war where prisoners of the war were used to clean up the mess. In the opening the teen German POWs were trained to defuse the land mine explosives and then later the unit was handed over to the Danish sergeant Carl Rasmussen where they are all going to work in one of the west coast landmines that was used to defend the Scandinavia by the Nazi. That is the story told how it all ends in the remaining parts.

This was like another 'Kajaki', but not actually a war film. Using of the prisoners as the labourers is a violation, according to the Geneva rule. That's the point of the film, focused to reveal the inhume act. But it was not anything like 'The Railway Man' 'Unbroken' or the 'The Bridge on the River Kwai'. Watching a film about the brave soldiers inspires us and bring patriotism, but in this those teen kid screaming whenever something goes wrong really brings heartache. So not everybody feels comfortable with it, especially the family audience. But there were lots of edgy moments and you would never know what events follows.

"If they are old enough to go to war, they are old enough to clean up."

It was shot is the real location, and I think that part contributed to depicting the actual atmosphere where most of the POWs lost their arms and legs and some exploded into many pieces in the air. It was a simple narration, but the visuals talked itself more than anything else. All the actors were outstanding, especially those 4-5 German teens and of course the Danish sergeant Carl. I think the Carl's influence had more impact, after seeing the opening scene where he went outrage and beat up those German soldiers returning home.

There are a couple of small twists, but there are some scenes which are not easy to get over. Even though we know those were just fake, but that does not work once you totally into the story deeply. This is a different kind of emotional film, something you rarely experience. The director who is also the writer must be appreciated for handling it perfectly. Especially keeping the screenplay uncomplicated and between the two nations, where in the real event involves the British officials. I have never seen his other films, but this one will define him forth and the people are going to recognise him. So I hope he'll keep up doing such level films in the future.

I have never seen such film, I mean seen some where the kids were tortured, but this was very unique and totally a different perspective for that takes place in the backdrop of the WWII. Especially the Germans perspective is the very rare kind. So I'm kind of thinking if Germany picks 'Look Who's Back' for the Oscars, the contest between these two would bring two different moods. At this point I don't remember any Danish film I have seen so far in my life other than this one which I feel is the best Danish film ever. I mean, come on, who would do such film where your own nation, if not the whole nation, the one who represent was shown in the negative shade over the Nazi Germans. This is definitely one of the best films of the year. Highly recommended.



The Danish sergeant Carl Leopold is responsible for a group of young German prisoners of war. The German boys are sent to the Danish west coast to defuse mines Nazis dug into the sand during World War II. Carl nourishes an intense hatred towards Germany and Germans after the war, and the boys suffers. The film is very poignant and brutal. There were several scenes that were tough to watch, this is a film that is difficult to take in right away. The story is strong and the story evolves dramatically. The psychological strain is something we as viewers are drawn into. One of the best things about this film is the wonderful actors, especially the young soldiers' suffering is conveyed in a convincing manner. This is a film you will not forget so easily. One of the year's best.


War is a nasty, nasty thing. The only people who can support war are those who never felt it on their own skin and psychopaths. If you have, even in traces, enough empathy to feel the pain of a fellow human, you will be a firm pacifist your entire life. And this movie serves as a great reminder of that. We live in the times when fear is all around us. You turn on the TV or you go online and there's a terrorist attack or a massive shooting going on. And you are forced to make a choice - you are either with us or you're one of them. The world is separated into good guys and bad guys and everything is perfectly black and white. But life is never so simple. I highly encourage you to watch this movie. You will be enlightened, even if just for a bit. I promise you that.


'LAND OF MINE': Four and a Half Stars (Out of Five)

A Danish-German war film (based on actual events) about teenage German prisoners of war, that were forced to clear mines from postwar Denmark (shortly after the end of World War II). The film has received nearly unanimous rave reviews from critics, and it's won (or been nominated for) multiple prestigious awards; including a 2017 Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Language Film. The movie was written and directed by Martin Zandvliet, and it stars Roland Moller. I agree with all of it's critical acclaim, it's an amazing film!

Historians estimate that following the end of World War II (in Europe), 2,000 captured German soldiers were forced to remove mines, with their bare hands, from former warzones. Many of these prisoners of war were teenagers, and they were also extremely inexperienced. It's also estimated that nearly half of them were killed, or severely wounded, by the mines. This film tells the story of a small group of those teenage German prisoners, in Denmark. It focuses on their relationship with their commanding Danish sergeant (Moller), who at first hates the boys and then grows sympathetic towards them.

The movie is extremely emotional and involving. Only the least empathetic viewer could not feel something for these boys, that were forced to go through this unbelievably horrendous experience. The relationship they have with their enemy sergeant is also extremely touching and powerful. By focusing on a part of World War II history that's rarely covered (in films at least), the movie also seems original and surprisingly educational. It's a very moving story about forgiveness, in the harshest of circumstances, as well. I think it's a masterpiece that everyone should see. I'd almost give it a perfect rating, but I'm slightly hesitant to for some reason.

Watch our movie review show 'MOVIE TALK' at: https://youtu.be/hAV3iy1JkJ8


The English title of Danish/German co-production 'Under Sandet' could have been a literal translation: Under the Sand. Instead, it's been named 'Land of Mine'. You can see what they did there: the setting is Denmark in 1945, newly-liberated from Nazi rule; and the situation is the need to clear the large numbers of landmines left scattered over the country.

German-hating Sgt Carl is assigned a group of callow young German POWs to clear thousands of landmines from a stretch of beach. As the film progresses Carl and the boys come to understand each other, but given the nature of the work, the boys' numbers are slowly dwindling...

It will surprise no-one that the crusty old sergeant comes to feel some sort of affection for the boys. The viewer will also feel certain that one of the set of twins will not be returning to Germany, and as soon as the dog makes an appearance... well, it's just a question of how long has he got, really. Another big flaw is the one-dimensional nature of the characters (Carl aside): with just one throwaway line mentioning "what they've got on their consciences", the young Nazi soldiers are portrayed as victims; and Carl's smooth superior is little more than a pantomime villain (if he had a moustache he'd be twirling it), at one stage even leading a group of British soldiers to assault the boys. And of course, the viewer spends the entire film waiting for the next big explosion.

But somehow none of the flaws detract from the film being very good. Despite their possible wartime actions, the viewer remembers the boys are conscripts and as Carl locks them into their filthy, tiny hut each night it's hard not to feel sorry for them. As Carl, Roland Møller turns in a good performance of a man slowly coming to feel sympathy for his charges, and the various young Germans do well as bewildered youngsters trapped in a situation where each thrust of a stick into the sand could mean death or maiming. Definitely one of the best films of 2015's London Film Festival, this even manages a little light-heartedness in the end credits, where a caption solemnly informs the viewer that no humans or animals were harmed in the making of the film. Just in case anyone thought the producers were really blowing up their actors...


Land of Mine is a thrilling tragedy about the aftermath of war. The first note is laboured breathing against a black screen; we'll rarely breathe easily for the duration. In scene after scene we wait for the explosion. Some explosions are mines, some emotional. They are equally destructive.

The film is based on the Allies' historical use of German POWs, including young boys, to dig out and defuse the thousands of land mines that the German army had planted along the Danish coast to prevent the Allies' landing.

Though the forced deployment of boys is clearly inhumane, it was a logical way to deal with the Germans' mines. As the German army grew dependent upon young recruits, so did this effort to restore the safety of the beaches. Though these boys may not have committed the atrocities of the war, they were still functioning enemy soldiers so their deployment was not entirely unjust.

The film's central thrust is Danish Sgt. Rasmussen's recovery of his humanity. In the opening scene he proves a hard-headed brutal officer with a seething hatred of the Germans. We don't get his backstory, nor that of the isolated Danish farm woman who rents the unit her shed for sleeping. Obviously widowed by the war, she delights in seeing some Germans killed, even these innocent youths.

Rasmussen's harsh treatment of the boys softens as he witnesses their efforts and suffering. He countermands the Allies' willingness to starve them. A night visit by Allied officers to humiliate them deepens his sympathy for the boys and his doubts about the victors' virtue.

Theoretical virtue is challenged by a personal loss. Had she not lost her husband the woman might have responded more warmly to the boys, as she does when two retrieve her little daughter from the minefield. When Rasmussen lowers his guard and gives his charges a day off for pleasure and play, his dog's death by mine revives his former hatred. And his dehumanizing of his enemy, as he makes one act like his dog.

Rasmussen ultimately disobeys his orders when he drives the four surviving boys to the border back home to Germany. At whatever cost to his career, he disobeyed his commander's order to send them back into even more dangerous action — despite the promise to send them home after the initial mission.

That's where the literal mines resonate into metaphor. Whatever hatreds lead into a war, larger ones linger on after it. The hatred of the erstwhile enemy lingers buried in the mind like a mine in the sand, capable of eruption at any time.

The film's lesson is our need to remember our enemy's humanity — if we are to recover our own, often perforce numbed by the exigencies of war. The Allied officers here demonstrate the inhumanity and cruelty they ostensibly fought to defeat. We know the Allies were more moral than the Axis in World War II. The Allied officers here fail the moral challenge once the war is over — and their hatred and cruelty persist.

The film's specifics remain as current as the metaphoric function of the mine. That is, the film is as literally true about current wars as about that one. Troops still plant mines and unleash horrendous weapons with fatal after effects. Nations still punish their former enemies with excessive zeal. And some unscrupulous armies still weaponize their own children, using them as shields or as bombs, confident that their sacrifice will be blamed on their enemies instead.


LAND OF MINE (Under Sadet) 2015

This Danish film is set just after the end of the Second World War. It tells the tale of a little-known bit of post war history. The Danish army garbs up several thousand German prisoners of war and puts them to work clearing mines.

The story follows a tough Danish Sergeant, Roland Moller, who is put in charge of a small detachment of young pow's. The Germans are all young lads of about 16-17 who had been drafted into the army late in the war.

The young men are put through a quick course on dismantling the various types of mines. They are then sent off to various parts of the Danish West coast. The German's had planted close to two million mines on the coast.

Moller puts the Germans lads to work clearing a nearby section of the beach. At night he locks the boys in a barn. The first several days the Germans are not supplied with any food. This of course affects their ability to defuse their quota of mines. One of the lads blows off both his arms off because of fatigue.

Moller might hate the Germans, but this is just murder. He hits a Danish Army base and steals some rations for the Germans. The Germans take all the abuse heaped on them by the Danes and the visiting British officers. Moller starts to rock the boat with his higher ups about this treatment. This just gets Moller in crap with the chain of command.

Several more of the lads are killed and more prisoners are brought in to take their place. Moller reverts back to form when his dog is killed running in a section that was cleared. He has the boys walk over every square foot of the section to make sure no others were missed.

Moller again softens when he returns from a trip to his base. He finds the Germans risking their lives to rescue a local child who had wandered onto an uncleared section. Moller promises the boys that they can all go back home after their section of beach is cleared. After the section is cleared, there is only 4 out of 14 lads left alive. Moller loads the survivors on a truck and wishes them good luck back in Germany.

He then finds out that his swine of a commanding officer, has assigned the 4 kids to work on another section of beach. This results in a heated discussion with the officer. The man tells Moller that as far as he is concerned, the more dead Germans, the better.

Moller, knowing it could cost him his stripes, hunts down the 4 boys at their new posting .Using faked papers he takes custody of the boys and drives them to within 100 yards of the border. He then tells them to hotfoot it for home.

The use of prisoners to do dangerous work was of course against the rules of the Geneva Convention. About half of the 2000 POW's used in clearing the mines were killed or wounded.

As a military history buff, I was surprised I had never heard about this chapter of World War Two.

This powerful film is well worth a watch for those interested in the era. The acting, direction and cinematography are all first rate.
Sadaron above the Gods

Sadaron above the Gods

The further the WWII dates back and the more the political correctness enhances, the more difficult it is to create a versatile, realistic film about persons and events with direct connection to it. As it has always been so that history is created and communicated by winners...

Nevertheless, a famous Danish film-maker Martin Zandvliet decided to try and, in principle, succeeded. The characters are versatile, there are no black-and-white approaches (e.g. Germans - bad, the Allies - good), and the actions and logic of events seems realistic (at times predictable though). Performances are at least good, usually even great (Roland Møller as Sgt. Carl Leopold Rasmussen and all youngsters depicting Germans prisoners), and the scenery and skillful camera-work enable to create the mood suitable for such a film.

Perhaps the pace was not always even and the ending was rounded up hastily, but Under sandet is definitely a distinct film not to be mixed up with other war-related works. A month ago it made the shortlist of 9 films to be considered for a nomination at the 89th Academy Awards - let's see how things go.


This multiply-honored Danish-German movie from Martin Zandvliet also could have been titled Land of Mines, since it is based on Denmark's real post-World War II program that used POWs to clear the mines the Germans laid up and down the Danes' western seacoast. Apparently, someone in Hitler's command believed the Allied invasion might take place there, and when the war was over, the mines had to go. In real life, we're told, some 2,000 prisoners were given the task of clearing the beaches of some 1.5 million mines—a task New York Times reviewer A.O. Scott terms "intuitively fair and obviously cruel." About half of these former soldiers, many of whom were mere teenagers, died or were seriously injured in the process. This movie, which has subtitles, is about 14 such prisoners and not easy to watch. Lacking the Hollywood cues that typically signal when disaster's coming and who will be next to die, every moment of training, every defusing of a mine, every run on the beach is tension-filled. Hardass Danish Sergeant Carl Rasmussen (played by Roland Møller) doesn't think these prisoners should get by with a thing, and he works them hard. The story, then, is about how he gradually comes to see them as the young boys they are. The Danes are justly praised for saving the vast majority of their Jews in World War II, despite the country's occupation by the German army, but this almost forgotten episode shows a darker side. Not everyone is capable of compassion or of easy forgiveness. And where should the Sergeant's loyalties lie? With his countrymen (and the rest of humanity) who have suffered at the hands of the Nazis or with the boys now under his absolute command? The boys condemned to this excruciating duty, with its meager diet and the receding possibility they will ever return home, are portrayed by a fourteen young actors—including a pair of twins—who are utterly believable. Is their deadly task necessity or punishment? How much bravery is required just to persevere? A recent Academy Award nominee for Best Foreign Language Film, Land of Mine was shot on location on the Danish coast. A real mine—one missed by the young searchers more than 70 years ago—was discovered during filming.
Hǻrley Quinn

Hǻrley Quinn

"Land of Mine" (2015 release from Denmark; original title: Under sandet, ('Under the Sand'); 100 min.) brings the story of a group of German POWs in Denmark. As the movie opens, we are reminded it is "Denmark, May 1945", right after the end of WW II. We get to know Danish Sgt. Rasmussen, who--after violently lashing out against German soldiers leaving the country--is assigned to de-mine an area on Denmark's western coast. Apparently the Nazis anticipated a possible invasion there, incorrectly as we all know. Rasmussen gets the help of about a dozen German soldiers who are ordered to actually do the work. When the soldiers arrive, it turns out most of them are just boys. As the Germans are trained on how to de-mine, one of them accidentally detonates a mine and dies. At this point we are a good 10 min. into the movie, but to tell you more of the plot would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.

Couple of comments: this is a high-profile (more on that later) and expensive (for European standards) production that brings to the big screen a post WWI episode not well known by the public at large (in the movie's end titles, we learn that more than 2,000 German soldiers were involved in this enormous mining clearance project). The movie's underlying tension (namely, at any time one of those landmines may detonate when making a minor error) rarely lets up, keeping us at the edge of our seat. On top of that, there are several outright brutal scenes involving Sgt. Rasmussen's attitude towards the boy soldiers (it somehow reminded me of the first half hour of Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket). All that said, while one certainly may have empathy for the boy soldiers as a group, I found it difficult to have the same emotional investment for the individual boys, as frankly they all seemed interchangeable to me within the movie's context. But in the end, this is an eye-opening movie on many levels. Danish actor Roland Møller in the role of Sgt. Rasmussen is nothing short of extraordinary.

"Land of Mine" received immediate critical acclaim upon its release in 2015 and in fact was nominated for the 2016 Best Foreign Language Movie Oscar, yes, LAST year's Oscars. I have no idea why this movie is just now opening up in US theaters, but better late than never I suppose. The Saturday matinée screening where I saw this at in Ft. Myers was attended very nicely, much to my surprise. If you are interested in a slice of WW II history that you may not be familiar with, I urge you to check this out, be it in theater, or later on Amazon Instant Video on eventually on DVD/Blu-ray. "Land of Mine" is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!


Another stunning Danish film of the 21st century. Ironically most of the cast are both German and very young adding to the film's poignancy. The subject matter is brutal, historical and untypical of Denmark as other Europeans generally perceive it. The acting is uniformly excellent and very true to life. Inevitably, the intimate Belton twins scene allows them to steal the acting honours from their more professional colleagues. Any reviewer has to accept that all the characters have to be representative in any film of this type unless the portrayals are biographical. Such an approach works in this instance and though there are horrendous scenes to behold they merely confirm the accuracy of the events depicted. Living in a modern European democracy, it is difficult to envisage the impact the Nazi regime had on any young German willing to defy their orders. I suspect most of the Germans troops used to clear Danish beaches were as innocent of the Nazi atrocities as their victims.


This movie certainly deserved its Oscar nomination.

Rarely do movie stick with me for days. 'Land of mine' did.

It's not an action-movie, like 'Dunkirk' or other movies set in and around World War 2. It's an important character study about humanity, desperation, resentment, anger, prejudice and hate that I think everyone need to see, even if they have no interest in World War 2. There are no good or bad guys here. Just people that try to deal with difficult situations commanded by other people above them.

They should make more movies like this.


"Those of you who count the mines, make sure my card is updated. This task is as important as defusing mines." Sgt. Carl Rasmussen (Roland Moller)

In 1945, Denmark needed to defuse the over 2 million landmines left on their western beaches by the Nazis. A Danish sergeant is responsible for 14 German POWs, youngsters all, to find the 45 K on one beach, after which the boys can go home.

That precision mentioned in the opening quote lies at the heart of the film's considerable suspense because one unaccounted for mine can take multiple lives. And so, the sergeant has to corral teenage workers, motivate them with fear, and keep at bay his growing affection for them.

Therein lies the real suspense: Will he learn to love and protect them or will he be brutal as he was in the opening scene? For a story somewhat like Hurt Locker, Land of Mine is a minimalist work of complexity, unadorned with the usual tropes of thrillers but full of the humanity to make it rise above just another WW II sentimental reflection.

Besides the tension built into the always impending explosions is the question of whether or not the Danes will act like Nazis suppressing the lads and hurrying them on to death. The moments of warmth between the sergeant and the boys are few but revelatory enough for us to hope their innocence and bravery will win him over.

Land of Mine will usher you into a war zone you've not seen handled so well in cinema, except possibly Jean Renoir's Grand Illusion in the '30's. The drama, replete with many dramatic elements and even Chekov's gun, will make you wince at the possibly grotesque fate of faultless boys and their conflicted sergeant.


Under Sandet is the representative of Denmark pro Oscar for best foreign film, and is a film that portrays the war otherwise, shows men who has the task of digging and removing land mines, and is a heavy war drama, the performances are Strong, you see the suffering of the soldiers and their fear in this task, the direction of Martin Zandvliet is very precise, he manages to film very well the expression of the soldiers, the photograph is beautiful, the script is good, if you watch Under Sandet waiting A Saving Private Ryan, is going to be disappointed, because it is a film that does not have the task to do scenes of action, but dramatic scenes, Under Sandet is a very good film, and is a strong candidate to Oscar of best foreign film. Note 8.3
Mustard Forgotten

Mustard Forgotten

There's a weird double edge sword going on here. Though I can't blame the Danish for being so cruel to the Germans so soon after the war ended, it's difficult in this PC world of 2017 to see this happening.

Denmark forces German soldiers to clean up their mess (A series of beaches infected with their land mines) before they can go home. Making this task even crueler is the soldiers doing it don't look old enough to smoke a cigarette.

It was a very honest look at the aftermath of war. The Danish military were treating the German's worse than dogs, though Germany deserved it for the part they played in WWII. Land of Mine is a focus on humanity as one Danish Commanding officer must find this with a group of German boys he commands like they were slaves

Land of Mine was at times hard to look at, especially when these kids were getting blown up. A little too real on how land mines work. One minute you're there, the next minute you're gone. Sometimes you saw the explosion coming, and then they surprise you with one you didn't. It strangely added to the drama.

Land of Mine was an interesting look on what it takes to turn the other cheek and forgive the enemy.