This Oscar nominated film (Best Foreign Film) from Denmark is about as complicated and difficult a story to tell, but writer-director Martin Zandvliet more than succeeds.
It’s post WWII in Denmark, and a group of Nazi youth POWs is tasked with clearing a beach of thousands of mines. Their commander, a Danish Sergeant (an excellent Roland Moller) views his crew with contempt at first, treating them harshly. Over time, the fact that they are just young boys begins to wear on him, especially when some of them meet their deaths on the beach.
The cast is beyond good here, delivering a story that has echoes of All Quiet on the Western Front. It’s a difficult film in that it portrays wartime German soldiers in a sympathetic way, and the film will justifiably irritate some.
In the end, it’s about the horrors of war, its aftermath, and coping with the hatred and bitterness that follows. The movie is a heart wrenching experience, especially in how Moller’s character endures an emotional rollercoaster. Moller makes everything the Sergeant goes through seem authentic and convincing. This is a brutal film, and it should be.