1971 – Swedish/English – PG – 191 min – Drama
Director/writer Jan Troell’s expansive saga deals with the Larsen family, who during the 19th century famine in Sweden emigrate to the more fertile fields of Minnesota. With painstaking detail, the director follows the Larsens as they make the perilous (and, to some of their fellow immigrants, fatal) journey by foot, steamer, train, and paddle boat. The film, which originally ran 190 minutes but was pared down to 150 by its director for American consumption, earned Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, Best Foreign Language Picture, Best Screenplay, Best Direction, and Best Actress (Liv Ullmann). The Emigrants was followed by a sequel, Nybyggarna (“The New Land”); both films have been edited together for TV release under the title The Emigrant Saga. The subsequent American TV series The New Land (1974) starred Bonnie Bedelia in the role created in The Emigrants by Liv Ullmann, and Scott Thomas in the patriarch role originated by Max von Sydow. In 1991, Sven Nykvist directed a “prequel” to The Emigrants titled The Ox. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
The New Land
1972 – Swedish/English – PG – 205 min – Drama
This film continues from where Utvandrarna (1971) left off. Starting a new life in the New World from almost nothing is not easy. The winters and summers are more extreme than in the Old World. But the immigrants are rewarded for their hard work. They now live a better life than they did in Sweden. Bad times also come, however. The civil war starts and the Sioux Indians make a bloody uprising against the white settlers. Karl-Oskar’s family survives all these. His brother, Robert, decides to seek his fortune in the gold fields of California. He never reaches California but acquires some fortune from his boss who dies of yellow fever on the way to the gold fields. An immigrant Swede dupes him of this fortune. Robert returns to his brother where he dies from a disease contracted on the trip. Kristina, whose thoughts never leave Sweden, has several more births and gets pregnant again against the advice of her doctor. This last pregnancy kills her. The children grow up and take over the farm. Karl-Oskar becomes old and lonely. He spends his last days dreaming of his youth in the Old World.