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Land of Mine DVD Review

Land of Mine (2017) movie poster Land of Mine (Under sandet)

US Theatrical Release: February 10, 2017 (Danish Release: December 3, 2015) / Running Time: 101 Minutes / Rating: R

Writer/Director: Martin Zandvliet

Cast: Roland Møller (Sgt. Carl Leopold Rasmussen), Louis Hofmann (Sebastian Schumann), Joel Basman (Helmut Morbach), Mikkel Boe Følsgaard (Lt. Ebbe Jensen), Laura Bro (Karin), Zoe Zandvliet (Elisabeth), Mads Riisom (Soldier Peter), Oskar Bökelmann (Ludwig Haffke), Emil Belton (Ernst Lessner), Oskar Belton (Werner Lessner), Leon Seidel (Wilhelm Hahn), Karl Alexander Seidel (Manfred), Maximilian Beck (August Kluger), August Carter (Rodolf Selke), Tim Bülow (Hermann Marklein), Alexander Rasch (Friedrich Schnurr), Julius Kochinke (Johann Wolff), Aaron Koszuta (Gustav Becker), Levin Henning (Albert Bewer)

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It seems like there's always a film about World War II competing for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards.
This year's nominee was Land of Mine, a gut-wrenching Danish-German drama written and directed by Martin Zandvliet.

The film is set in 1945, the immediate aftermath of the war. Young German prisoners of war are assigned to defuse mines buried along the West Coast of Denmark. These are boys, not men. The eldest appear to be in their mid-teens. The youngest are probably around 12. A group of fourteen is charged with uncovering and disarming thousands of mines buried in beach sands. They report to Sergeant Carl Rasmussen (Roland Møller), who shows these youths no sympathy and is determined to keep them on their three-month schedule.

As you can imagine, this is perilous work. Land of Mine features the kind of tension that made The Hurt Locker so riveting. One boy blows himself up during training. Others do the same later. One survives the explosion with his arms and legs turned into bloody monstrosities. As if that wasn't bad enough, the boys are also malnourished. At one point, they get sick after stealing what they think is food from a nearby barn. It's rat poop.

In "Land of Mine", Sgt. Carl Leopold Rasmussen (Roland Møller) is tasked with overseeing German boys to defuse mine fields along the West Coast of Denmark.

Sergeant Carl shows no mercy...until he steals some bread and vegetables for them. In time, he's even giving them a day off and playing soccer with them on the beach. But despite these glimpses of compassion and humanity (and the stands he secretly takes against his commanding officer),
he remains a madman, whose greatest grief involves a dog who tags around him.

Land of Mine punches you in the gut repeatedly, although at least it isn't as relentlessly bleak and zoned-in as last year's Foreign Language winner, the Hungarian Holocaust drama Son of Saul. Zandvliet's film calls your attention to a footnote of European history few probably know about and it breaks your heart in the process. That for me gave it more impact than three of the category's fellow nominees, albeit the three I experienced at home rather than the big screen.

Despite the Oscars' penchant for acknowledging this pivotal 20th century conflict, pundits and prognosticators were right to recognize that Land of Mine was trailing the frontrunners Toni Erdmann and The Salesman. In fact, the latter won, its victory inviting to be read as something of a political statement against President Trump's controversial Muslim country travel ban. Even without the Oscar, though, Land of Mine is a powerful drama you should see, if you can stomach it.

Four months after opening in US theaters, Land of Mine hits DVD and made-to-order Blu-ray in early June from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

Land of Mine DVD cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com DVD Details

2.40:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Dolby Digital 5.1 (German, English Descriptive Video Service)
Subtitles: English, English for Hearing Impaired, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Extras Subtitled in English and Portuguese
Release Date: June 6, 2017
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9)
Suggested Retail Price: $26.99
Black Keepcase

VIDEO and AUDIO

With the Blu-ray being made-to-order (a somewhat troubling sign for physical media, although preferable to a DVD-only release), only the DVD edition of Land of Mine was made available for review. Sony's DVDs have always been solid and this one is no exception, the 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation satisfying in clarity and sharpness, while the player-generated subtitles translating the foreign dialogue neatly and effectively. While the greater detail of high definition is missed, this leaves nothing to be desired by the standards of DVD.

"Land of Mine" writer/director Martin Zandvliet answers questions in the bonus featurette. Land of Mine's DVD main menu is simply adapted from the cover art.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

Land of Mine is joined by the featurette "In Conversation with Director Martin Zandvliet" (17:50),
an English language Los Angeles Q & A session hosted by Alexander Messmann. Zandvliet discusses the title, how the movie played in different parts of Europe, and the historical subject matter. For a principal supplement, it's a pretty good inclusion.

Being a Sony Pictures Classics release, Land of Mine also has its North American theatrical trailer (2:05) kindly preserved here.

"Previews" repeats the six trailers the disc plays automatically at its start, promoting fellow foreign films Toni Erdmann, Julieta, Elle, 13 Minutes, and Son of Saul, plus the documentary Red Army.

The scored, static main menu offers a variation on the poster art.

Young prisoners of war have the dangerous job of clearing minefields in the Academy Award nominee "Land of Mine."

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Land of Mine is a powerful gut punch you should see once. If you're able to endure multiple viewings, you have a stronger constitution than I. But it's a well-made, moving drama that stays with you. Sony's DVD provides a fine presentation plus a good bonus Q & A session.

Buy Land of Mine on DVD from Amazon.com

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Reviewed May 26, 2017.



Text copyright 2017 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2016 Sony Pictures Classics, Ratpac-Dune Entertainment, Nordisk Film Production, Amusement Park Film, K5 International,
and 2017 Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
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