Land of Mine

Clearing mines from post-WWII Denmark is a hell of a task.

Let’s talk titles. Martin Zandvliet’s gripping story of young POWs forced to remove the millions of landmines along the coast of Denmark after World War II was originally titled Under Sandet, which translates as Under the Sand. It’s appropriate for a movie in which what lies beneath the windswept beach is indeed a source of terror  — especially as the German teenagers under the pitiless command of Sgt. Rasmussen (Roland Møller) crawl along the sand, poking at it with sticks to find and (hopefully) disarm the mines before they explode. The overall narrative follows a somewhat predictable path — you just know that for as cruelly as he treats them at first, Rasmussen will eventually warm to the boys and come to realize they’re just pawns in the game.

But this doesn’t make the individual set pieces any less tense, including one of the most brutal dog deaths this side of John Wick. So what did this Oscar-nominated picture get renamed for its domestic release? Think of the laziest landmine pun possible ­— setting aside the tastelessness of making a landmine pun in the first place ­— and realize that’s where the distributor went: Land of Mine. Geddit? Because landmines! Whoever came up with that should be buried up to their neck under the sand.

Land of Mine
Rated R.
Opens Friday at the Clay Theater.

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