The German army occupied Denmark for five years during World War II. Towards the end of that time, the Germans planted about 1,500,000 antitank and antipersonnel mines in Denmark, mostly along the west coast. After Germany was defeated, the Danes and the British made captured German soldiers defuse and clear the mines before being allowed to return to Germany.
In Land of Mine, we are introduced to Sgt. Carl Rasmussen as he beats up a German prisoner of war. When he is assigned to clear the mines buried in a large expanse of beach, he tells his German crew that he couldn’t care less if they all die. But, as time goes on, he realizes that he needs them alive so that the work can be completed on time. He also realizes that the members of his crew are not the hardened Nazis he has come to hate, but among the young, teenaged Germans Adolf Hitler forced into his army late in the war. Rasmussen even asks his superior officers to send him older German soldiers, but they refuse. Gradually, Rasmussen begins to see the boys he oversees as human beings who just want to go home to their families, get a job and meet girls.
In the niche genre of bomb disposal films, Land of Mine is far more nerve-wracking than The Hurt Locker because there are more scenes of bombs being defused and because, early in the film, we are shown how it is done. So, we are on edge with every contact with the mines and every careful turning of every part.
Writer-director Martin Zandvliet shot the film on one of the actual beaches where the mine-clearing took place. By the way, the original Danish title means Under the Sand. This is one example of a revised English-language title that is better than the original.