The New Land
|The New Land|
|Directed by||Jan Troell|
|Produced by||Bengt Forslund|
|Written by||Jan Troell|
|Based on||The Settlers and The Last Letter Home|
by Vilhelm Moberg
|Starring||Max von Sydow|
|Music by||Bengst Ernryd|
|Edited by||Jan Troell|
|Distributed by||Svensk Filmindustri|
The New Land (Swedish: Nybyggarna) is a 1972 Swedish film co-written and directed by Jan Troell and starring Max von Sydow, Liv Ullmann and Eddie Axberg. It is a sequel to Troell's The Emigrants (1971); both are based on The Emigrants novels by Vilhelm Moberg. Drawing its story from the last two of these novels — The Settlers (1956) and The Last Letter Home (1959) — the film is about Swedish immigrants establishing their home in Minnesota during the Dakota War of 1862.
Karl Oskar, his wife Kristina and their three children, along with Karl Oskar's brother Robert and Robert's friend Arvid, have arrived in Lake Ki Chi Saga from Sweden. Taking shelter in a shanty, Karl Oskar pours all their resources into building them a house before winter arrives. He begins clearing the land of the tall pine trees, and with the help of Robert, Arvid and some of their Swedish neighbors, construct a small farmhouse.
Once the farmhouse is completed, Karl Oskar and Kristina invite their fellow Swedish settlers over for dinner, including Kristina's Uncle Danjel and Ulrika, who has become a very close friend of the family. After dinner, they discuss if they regret emigrating. Later that night, Karl Oskar tries to console Kristina and shows her something he had kept from when they had left Sweden- a shoe that had belonged to Anna, their eldest daughter who had died in Sweden. He tells her that it helps him to remember their home, which comforts her slightly. Not long afterwards, Kristina gives birth to a son, Danjel, named after her uncle. Robert, meanwhile, tells Arvid that he plans to head west to California to dig for gold, and asks Arvid to come with him. They head west, only to have their adventure plagued by a series of misfortunes. The two become lost in the desert, where Arvid dies from drinking tainted water. Robert is rescued by a Hispanic cattle driver, who brings him to a village in the Sierra Nevada. While there, Robert comes to possess a small fortune, only to have it swindled from him by another Swede. He returns to Minnesota, where after meeting again with Karl Oskar and Kristina, dies from a fever he contracted while out west.
In the following years, Kristina gives birth to two more children, Ulrika and Frank, after which a doctor, advises Kristina that after seven pregnancies her insides are torn, and another pregnancy will be fatal. However, Kristina decides to go against the doctor's warning, and eventually becomes pregnant again several times. After suffering several miscarriages, Kristina falls ill and becomes bedridden, gradually weakening. The Sioux Uprising of 1862 erupts when starving Sioux warriors kill more than 500 white settlers across the upper Midwest, among them Kristina's uncle Danjel and his eldest son Sven. Many of the warriors are subject to a mass execution.
Kristina dies in 1862, and Karl Oskar, overwhelmed by grief, withdraws into a state of solitude, watching his children grow up and start families of their own. His eldest son Johan takes over the farm, marries an Irish girl and before long has a large brood of five children. Marta marries another Swedish immigrant from Ljuder parish, who later purchases the general store in Center City which they operate together while raising a family of three children. Harald leaves for Minneapolis and works for the railroad, eventually becoming a successful businessman and marrying a German woman, with whom he has two children. Dan remains a bachelor and stays behind on the farm to help Johan, while Ulrika marries a Norwegian farmer from nearby Franconia township and has a family of four children. Frank has since moved to Chicago and married a Yankee girl. Karl Oskar often visits Kristina's grave overlooking the river, tending to the flowers growing around it faithfully while in the distance, hammering sounds can be heard as other Swedes have also begun moving into the area in large numbers and establishing farms. On her grave marker, beneath her name it reads "We Shall Meet Again". A neighbor of Karl Oskar, Axel Andersson, writes a letter to Karl Oskar's sister Lydia back in Sweden informing her of Karl Oskar's death. In his letter, Andersson explains that Karl Oskar's children had by then forgotten Swedish, and that Karl Oskar often asked him to write to his sister informing her of his death which occurred in the evening of 7 December 1890. Also included with the letter is a family photograph showing Karl Oskar surrounded by Johan, Marta, Harald, Dan, Ulrika and Frank, their respective spouses and all their own children.
- Max von Sydow as Karl-Oskar
- Liv Ullmann as Kristina
- Eddie Axberg as Robert Nilsson
- Pierre Lindstedt as Arvid
- Allan Edwall as Danjel
- Monica Zetterlund as Ulrika
- Eva Lena Zetterlund as Elin
- Hans Alfredson as Jonas Petter
- Agneta Prytz as Fina Kajsa
- Halvar Björk as Anders Månsson
- Tom C. Fouts as Pastor Jackson
- Peter Lindgren as Samuel Nöjd
- Per Oscarsson as Pastor Törner
- Oscar Ljung as Petrus Olausson
Actress Liv Ullmann said that The New Land was filmed concurrently with The Emigrants over a year. The cast members spent days in the fields to portray farming, particularly for The New Land. Ullmann said that after three days, she began to be exhausted.
The film was shot at Filmstaden in Stockholm, as well as Småland and Skåne in Sweden and in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Colorado between February 1969 and January 1970. The combined cost of the two films was kr 7 million, then the most expensive Swedish film.
Before the home video release in the U.S., The Emigrants and The New Land were edited into The Emigrant Saga and aired on television. The first U.S. home video came in February 2016, when The Criterion Collection released both films on Blu-ray and DVD. The films were frequently requested by customers. The New Land was featured in the 2016 Gothenburg Film Festival.
Writing for The New York Times, Lawrence van Gelder praised the film as "a masterly exercise in film-making", and complimented Van Sydow and Ullman. He wrote that while the film could be "a reunion with old friends" for audiences that viewed The Emigrants, The New Land could stand alone. Stephen Farber of The New York Times called The New Land "a shattering film", and asserted "its portrait of the Indians is one of the most interesting ever caught on film". In New York, Judith Crist said the film demonstrated "poetic and human detail". U.S. novelist Philip Roth was also an admirer of the film, writing in 1974 "It's the first movie I've seen in years and years where I actually believed in the life and death of the characters. But the rendering of the settlement of the Midwest by immigrant Swedes and their dealings with the Indians and nature, is as good as anything in American literature on the subject". The film was an influence on some of his work.
Roger Ebert referred to The New Land as a masterpiece in his review of Troell's Everlasting Moments (2008). In his 2015 Movie Guide, Leonard Maltin gave the film three and a half stars, praising it for "Superior performances, photography, many stirring scenes". Author Terrence Rafferty wrote that The New Land appears lighter than The Emigrants, but has "a more pervasive sense of danger" and "disquiet", and compared Robert and Arvid to Lennie and George in John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men. The 1974 American television series The New Land was based loosely on both The Emigrants and The New Land, which Rafferty attributed to the popularity of both films.
The New Land was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in the same year Troell was nominated for Best Director for The Emigrants, the first time a director was nominated in those categories for two different films in the same year.
|Award||Date of ceremony||Category||Recipient(s)||Result||Ref(s)|
|Academy Awards||27 March 1973||Best Foreign Language Film||Jan Troell||Nominated|||
|Bodil Awards||1973||Best European Film||Won|||
|Golden Globes||28 January 1973||Best Foreign Language Film||The Emigrants and The New Land||Won|||
|Guldbagge Awards||23 October 1972||Best Actor||Eddie Axberg||Won|||
|Best Actress||Monica Zetterlund||Won|
|National Board of Review||24 December 1973||Best Actress||Liv Ullmann||Won|||
|Top Foreign Films||The New Land||Won|
|National Society of Film Critics||4 January 1974||Best Actress||Liv Ullmann||Won|||
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