• Golden Globe Awards

Land of Mine (Denmark)

It is a beautiful summer day on the West coast of Denmark. Apart from the roar of the sea and the gulls’ screech there is an unnatural silence. Except for a young man breathing close to the sand and the metallic sound a land mine makes when the detonator is carefully screwed off.In the spring of 1945, more than 2,000 of POWs were forced to clear the mines along the Danish West coast. Hitler laid over 2 million mines along the stretch of sand because he believed that the Allied invasion would happen here. Most of these soldiers were teenage boys conscripted by Hitler in the last days of the war, and they were hopelessly ill-equipped to carry out their dangerous task.  As the protagonist of the story – Sergeant Carl Leopold Rasmussen (Roland Moller) says:  “They still call for their mothers when they are afraid”.Director Martin Zandvliet adds: “I wanted to explore what happens to a person who loves his country as a patriot and feels a right to hate his enemy, but has been put in charge of a task that conflicts with the values he thought he possesses and that his own nation represented. He comes to doubt what he is fighting for.  And that is something many of us are asking these day. By treating each other – refugees or immigrants-  the way we do. Are we defending the values we are so afraid of losing or are we actually working against them?”Cinematographer Camilla Hjelm Knudsen (wife of the director) makes excellent use of the striking seaside locations. The sound and special effects team also do a superb job with the harrowing scenes in the minefield, which sometimes culminate in startling and devastating explosions. There may be nothing novel in a story of enemies beginning to recognize the humanity in their despised antagonists. Jean Renoir told such a story memorably in Grand Illusion back in the 1930s. But of course this kind of plea for compassion will never lose its relevance. Land Of Mine earned Camilla Hjelm Knudsen the Carlo di Palma Award for best European cinematographer. “Knudsen’s cinematography creates a tension that supports the uniquely suggestive atmosphere of the film with great perfection”, the award committee noted. “The point for me is that an eye-for-an-eye mentality that is so easily adopted in extreme situations portrayed in this movie, ultimately makes losers of us all,” concludes Zandvliet.