This movie is a real eye opener regarding the harsh realities of war. So here’s my explanation & the trailer is right at the bottom 🙂
The movie begins with a scene from after the war. Denmark has finally been liberated from German occupation. A Danish sergeant, Carl Leopold Rasmussen harasses German soldiers who attempt to steal the Danish flag. Sergeant Rasmussen is infuriated every time he sees a German soldier. The hatred spews from his body as if he will attack them any moment.
Then, a group of young German prisoners of war are handed over to the Danish army. They are then trained to remove more than two million mines that the Germans had placed in the sand along the west coast. Now this part of Denmark was one that the Germans had loaded with mines and explosives. Mainly because they had expected the Allied forces to attack from there.
As the training commences we gain insight as to how young these soldiers actually are. It breaks my heart because deep down they never wanted to fight.
Now Rasmussen initially treats the young boys with contempt and he is resentful towards them. Amongst the group of soldiers there are also twin brothers who are so very close.
Rasmussen promises that they will return home in three months by defusing six mines per hour. Which was a very difficult task knowing that they were ill trained, young boys whose hands would shake at the thought of a bomb.
What I loved though was that the leader of the group, Sebastian Schumer tried to remain hopeful by speaking of his future plans in Germany.
The twins Ernst and Werner plan on becoming brick layers as they wish to rebuild Germany and make a lot of money. Just the thought of them having hopes and aspirations was so devastating as the task set out for them was one where many of them would not survive.
The boys become weak & malnourished because of lack of food. Sergeant Rasmussen steals food from the base – this is one of the first gestures that suggest he is softening towards the boys. Wilhelm’s arm is blown off from one of the land mines and he lies to the other soldiers telling them he is recovering to not let them lose hope.
Now there’s this one scene where one of the soldiers discovers that there is two mines attached to each other. One of the twins Ernest tries to warn his brother by yelling to him “stop” but it’s too late and he is blown to pieces. The aftermath was traumatising and it was hard to see how witnessed his brother die .
Rasmussen realises that these boys are innocent. They didn’t have anything to do with the war and were in fact forced into signing up. Ernest is in deep depression and walks off onto the beach committing suicide as the loss of his brother was too much.
The remaining boys have done their job and diffused all the bombs however, after a live landmine is accidentally tossed on a truckload of deactivated mines, seven of the boys are killed in the explosion.
Although the boys had been promised their freedom, Rasmussen receives orders from a soldier higher up that they would be sent elsewhere to diffuse more mines. Finding the decision extremely unjust, Rasmussen rescues them, drives them within 500 meters of the German border, and orders them to run. The film ends with Rasmussen watching the remaining boys run towards Germany. It’s bittersweet watching the boys faces change in utter disbelief that finally they are free. When they begin to run they keep turning back to see Rasmussen and by this point I was teary eyed – not going to lie . Do watch this movie and tell me your views.
I love this picture!