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 ... Written by
"The New Land" is the second half of a story started in Troell's "The Emigrants," which depicted the struggles of a band of Swedish peasants in their move to America. Here, several of the settlers- such as the priest and the prostitute- move away in the first half-hour and reappear here and there throughout the rest of the film. The plot focuses on Karl-Oscar, his wife Kristina, and the family they try to raise in the Minnesota wilderness.
Von Sydow and Ullmann are given a chance to embellish on their characters, and they both do excellent work. Axberg also does a fine job of lending more depth to the character of Robert, Karl-Oscar's rebellious younger brother. There is also material worked in that examines the mistreatment (and eventual uprising) of local Native Americans and the futile searches for gold in the north. These other elements do not always seem to fit with the central story, but they effectively add to the sense of time and place anyway.
"The New Land" does not have the same emotional impact that "The Emigrants" had, but it develops the two central characters more and intelligently explores how they learn to adapt to their new life. Put together, these two films convincingly illustrate the plight of those who forged our frontier.
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