SPOILER: In 1945, in Denmark, after the defeat of Germany, the tough veteran Sergeant Carl Rasmussen is assigned by Lieutenant Ebbe Jensen to defuse and remove 2.2 million mines in the Danish West Coast to make the beaches safe. Carl receives a group of teenage Germans prisoners of war to clear mines. With the formal promise of Ebbe, Carl tells to the youngsters that when the task is accomplished, the survivors would be released to return to Germany. After the initial hostility with the enemy, Carl realizes that the POWs are too young and befriends the boys. But when a mine in a clear area blows up his dog, Carl forces the boys to walk together on the safe areas to check whether any mine was left behind. Months later, the survivors complete their task but Ebbe sends them to another mined field. What will Carl do? Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
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. See more »
In the opening scene after Sgt. Rasmussen takes a flag from a German soldier we see him yelling at another soldier with nothing in his hands.
In the next shot the flag is back in his hand. See more »
Sgt. Carl Rasmussen:
Those of you who count the mines, make sure my card is updated. This task is as important as defusing mines.
See more »
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.
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