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The Emigrants (1971)

Utvandrarna (original title)
In the middle of the 19th century, Kristina and Karl-Oskar live in a small rural village in Smaaland (southern Sweden). They get married and try to make a living on a small spot of land. ... See full summary »



(screenplay), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »

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Nominated for 5 Oscars. Another 7 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »


Cast overview, first billed only:
Sven-Olof Bern ...
Nils (as Svenolof Bern)
Aina Alfredsson ...
Jonas Petter
Ulla Smidje ...
Inga-Lena, Danjels hustru
Eva-Lena Zetterlund ...
Elin, Ulrikas dotter
Gustaf Färingborg ...
Prosten Brusander
Åke Fridell ...
Aron på Nybacken
Agneta Prytz ...
Anders Månsson, hennes son


In the middle of the 19th century, Kristina and Karl-Oskar live in a small rural village in Smaaland (southern Sweden). They get married and try to make a living on a small spot of land. However, the small size of their land, the infertile soil, and some bad harvests make it tough. One of their children even starves to death. Thus, they decide to emigrate to the U.S. They meet a group of farmers with their families planning the emigration under the leadership of a banned priest. They sell everything and embark for the U.S. The journey on the sailing ship is long and tedious. Some of the emigrants will never reach the New World. Written by Gerhard Windecker <g.wind@mbox300.swipnet.se>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


a new land...a new hope...a new dream


Drama | History


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

8 March 1971 (Sweden)  »

Also Known As:

The Emigrants  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

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Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?


When filming the scene towards the end, where Karl Oskar walks off to find a better place for his settlement, director Jan Troell forgot to yell, "Cut." Max von Sydow just kept walking and walking, waiting for a "cut", and nobody realized until they took lunch. See more »


On the train west a character shows an American silver coin and yells out it has "In God We Trust" on it. The scene is the 1850s and the motto was not added to American silver coins until 1867. See more »


Ulrika: [to the Parson] You vicious, evil potbelly!
Kyrkvärd: Should you insult the Parson, Ulrika?
Ulrika: You look out, I can also insult the Church Warden, even better!
Kyrkvärd: You ought to wash out your mouth before you talk to the clergy.
Ulrika: With the Parson's liquor, you mean, or with the Parson's waste-water.
Kyrkvärd: You just shut up, you whore.
Ulrika: Whore? You said, whore? Ya? Your whore, don't forget! Church Warden! If I'm a whore, you're a lecher. You remember when you came to me, your money in your dirty hands, to buy my services?
Kyrkvärd: ...
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Referenced in Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession (2004) See more »

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User Reviews

Let the Emigrants in
22 November 2015 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

One of the few foreign language films to be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards (it didn't win, of course), The Emigrants tells the story of the hardships a family faces in a rural county of Sweden, causing them to look to America as a refuge. What's interesting about The Emigrants is that the film is Swedish- you wouldn't necessarily expect the Swedes to make a film about how awful Sweden is and how great the United States is. But, using a realistic and not melodramatic approach, the film lets us know what the family is struggling with and allows us to understand them.

The characters, played by Ingmar Bergman regulars Max von Sydow, Liv Ullmann and Allan Edwall, face poor harvests, starvation, poverty, religious persecution and even false rumours of bestiality. They look to the US as a place where a farmer can become rich, with even American slavery looking better than their previous situation. Getting to North America, however, will take a rough voyage in which our heroes will face disease, lice and death, and come into psychological conflict with each other. This makes for a strong drama.

Surely one of the best foreign films of the 1970s and a great addition to the strong cinematic year 1971, The Emigrants is an understated but still compelling film, and I look forward to The Criterion Collection's restoration.

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