17 user 34 critic

The Emigrants (1971)

Utvandrarna (original title)
Småland, Sweden, mid-19th century. A farming family struggle with their rocky, unyielding land, and decide to embark on the arduous journey to new hope in America.


Jan Troell


Bengt Forslund (screenplay), Jan Troell (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Nominated for 5 Oscars. Another 7 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Max von Sydow ... Karl Oskar
Liv Ullmann ... Kristina
Eddie Axberg ... Robert
Sven-Olof Bern Sven-Olof Bern ... Nils (as Svenolof Bern)
Aina Alfredsson Aina Alfredsson ... Märta
Allan Edwall ... Danjel
Monica Zetterlund ... Ulrika
Pierre Lindstedt ... Arvid
Hans Alfredson ... Jonas Petter
Ulla Smidje ... Inga-Lena - Danjel's Hustru
Eva-Lena Zetterlund Eva-Lena Zetterlund ... Elin - Ulrika's Dotter
Gustaf Färingborg Gustaf Färingborg ... Prosten Brusander
Åke Fridell ... Aron på Nybacken
Agneta Prytz ... Fina-Kajsa
Halvar Björk ... 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:

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Did You Know?


Jan Troell and Wilhelm Moberg had a disagreement whether the actors should use dialects. Troell wanted all actors to speak Småländska (the dialect spoken in county Småland where the story takes place) while Moberg wanted no dialects. As a compromise Karl-Oskar and Kristina speak with a dialect while many of the others such as Robert and Arvid only speak with a very light accent. See more »


Black slaves are shown chained to the Lake Erie steamboat leaving Buffalo, New York, circa 1850. Slavery had been abolished in the State of New York since 1827. See more »


Robert: In America, there are no commoners and gentry. People are the same there. And anybody can talk with the President of the places.
See more »

Alternate Versions

The USA television version, retitled "The Emigrant Saga", consists of this film plus its sequel, The New Land, joined and re-edited together in chronological order and dubbed in English. See more »


Referenced in Huset på Christianshavn: Hus forbi (1977) See more »

User Reviews

Swedish Epic About Finding the American Dream
10 October 2018 | by evanston_dadSee all my reviews

Max von Sydow and Liv Ullmann play a husband and wife who decide to emigrate to America with their family and fellow villagers in the mid-19th century.

The first part of the film details the challenges these people face that make them want to emigrate in the first place. An oppressive village hierarchy in which all laws and rules of accepted behavior are arbitrated by a self-appointed few, as well as conditions that make farming a constant struggle, leave them craving the freedoms and fertility of the mythic U.S. The second part of the film is a meticulous recreation of what the actual journey was like, including a long segment about the miseries of crossing the Atlantic Ocean (including sea sickness and lice), and the interminable trek up the Mississippi River to Minnesota once they landed. It's almost impossible to wrap your head around how frightening this entire experience would have been for them. These people knew almost nothing about the world outside of their small Swedish village (one young man doesn't even know how the ocean works and thinks they're all going to drown if the water rises) and trust themselves to strangers who don't speak their language or really have any reason to look out for their interests. It's a fascinating film and feels more like a documentary than a fictional narrative.

Unfortunately, the only version I was able to see was the dubbed one shown by TCM. I would have much preferred to see it subtitled so that I could experience von Sydow's and Ullmann's performances as they were meant to be experienced.

"The Emigrants" was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 1971 Academy Awards, and then because of Oscar's weird eligibility rules popped up again a year later with four nominations, for Best Picture, Best Director (Jan Troell), Best Actress (Ullmann), and Best Adapted Screenplay. At the time, it was only the third foreign language film after "Grand Illusion" and "Z" to receive a Best Picture nomination. And the film's sequel, "The New Land," was up for Best Foreign Language Film the same year that "The Emigrants" was in the Best Picture race. Good couple of years for director Jan Troell.

Grade: A

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Swedish | English

Release Date:

8 March 1971 (Sweden) See more »

Also Known As:

The Emigrants See more »

Filming Locations:

Copenhagen, Denmark See more »


Box Office

Gross USA:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »

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