This movie is brilliant, but oh so horrible. I did not enjoy watching it, but that wasn’t the point. It is about what might be the darkest deed Denmark has ever done. Forcing young German soldiers to dig up landmines after World War II.
We literally just finished it and I’m just left with this very empty feeling. An uncomfortable feeling. A knot in my stomach and lump in my throat kind of felling.
The movie is beautifully shot, the beach is almost a character in itself. The acting from all the young boys is just phenomenal. They carry the movie on their shoulders. The interplay between the sergeant and the German boys is really well done and believable. There isn’t any distractions and the plot is very straight forward, so the movie gets to the point of how telling us how it was from the get go. And it was not pretty. It was a horrible situation. But war and its aftermath is always horrible. There are no happy endings.
I was at the edge of my seat ten minutes in because I knew that statistically only half of the people doing this job survived without injuries. I knew that we were going to see a lot of young boys, who were not responsible for planting the mines or even the war itself being forced to do this. I had was on the verge of tears from then on and I’m still not recovered and don’t look forward to going to sleep, because I’m not in a happy state of mind. The one break we get from the horror is also horrible, because you know something is about to happen. As I said, no happy endings. And the knowledge that this happened to real people is really uncomfortable knowledge.
I talked to my dad about it, because he’d seen it in the cinema and he said the whole dilemma of how to remove the mines is hard. I understand all the arguments of this situation and understand that my hindsight gives me a very different perspective than the people making the decisions immediately after a war that devastated all of Europe – and many other parts of the world, but it is still a horrible act, that ought to have been handled differently. That being said, I’m glad that this movie got made, so that I now know that this is in fact a chapter of Danish history, one that we might want to forget, but one we shouldn’t forget.
I don’t know what it is, but the majority of the movies from Denmark that get nominated for an Oscar are not movies that make you leave with a smile on your face. Last year it was A War where the title says a lot, before that The Hunt which was also quite sad. A Royal Affair wasn’t sad per say, but did have mental illness and infidelity at the center. In a Better World which is the last Danish movie to win the Oscar – the Danish title translates to the revenge – partly takes place in Sudan and features war lords and attempted bombs. I don’t have a point, besides the fact that yes, the majority of Oscar nominated movies are dramas, but the Danish ones are very good at making me feel very sad.