The theaters below show films in their original language; click on the links for showtimes and ticket information.
Interviews with the stars, general film articles, and reports on press conferences and film festivals.
Subscribe to the free KinoCritics monthly email newsletter here.

Land of Mine (Unter dem Sand / Under Sandet)
by Rose Finlay

Director: Martin Pieter Zandvliet, Denmark, Germany

In May of 1945, the war was over, but the grim  realities of it still remained on the shores of Denmark which were scattered  with two million mines placed there by German troops. Danish authorities forced  thousands of German POWs, mostly from the German Volkssturm which was made up of very old and very young men pressed  into service at the end of the war, to clear these mines. Land of Mine is a fictional story of several teenage boys, who must  dig up mines with their bare hands.

Considering the usual fare of films dealing with World  War II and the events that followed afterwards, Land of Mine is interesting. The Germans in the film are young  boys instead of hardened soldiers and from the beginning it is clear that the  audience is supposed to feel sympathy and connect with them. It isn’t often  that a film comes along that depicts the soldiers of a previously occupied  territory as the antagonists and the German soldiers as the protagonists. Well,  not common outside of Nazi propaganda films that is. And yet Land of Mine does just this, although  perhaps not with enough subtlety.

At times the film is almost too mainstream, the  characters too clichéd, the plot too foreseeable, but it doesn’t detract from  its visceral effectiveness. It is hard to watch a film where you know many  children are going to die. It is even harder when one realizes that although  fictional, the film is based on fact; that the Danish did indeed force  unskilled former soldiers to clear their mines. Land of Mine is therefore successful in bringing to light an  unsavory part of Denmark’s past. Unfortunately, this topic would have been much  better served with a more intelligent and nuanced script. Instead of a  sensitively approaching the subject matter of whether the Danish broke the  Geneva Conventions in their treatment of what were essentially POWs and also  examining the common narrative about culpability of all Germans during the war, Land of Mine is instead a heavy  handed tear jerker. It is rather unfortunate, but hopefully it will lead the  way for a better film in the future.