The New Land (1972)

JAN TROELL

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB.5

Original title:  Nybyggarna

Sweden, 1972Svensk Filmindustri.  Screenplay by Bengt Forslund, Jan Troell, based on the novel by Vilhelm Moberg.  Cinematography by Jan Troell.  Produced by Bengt Forslund.  Music by Bengt Ernryd, Lars August Lundh, Georg Oddner, Nils Parling.  Production Design by P.A. Lundgren.  Costume Design by Ulla-Britt Soderlund.  Film Editing by Jan Troell.  Academy Awards 1972.  Golden Globe Awards 1972.

The magnificent saga continues in this excellent second film that follows Jan Troell’s The Emigrants.  Having found their promised land in Minnesota at the end of the last chapter, the Nilsson family must now eke out their survival on a barren property from which they eventually yield a successful life: more children follow, the first small cabin is eventually a large two storey house, their farming is prosperous and their love grows.  This new, bountiful land also exacts a high price for everything it gives, and the family’s happiness is always vulnerable to unpredictable weather, the constant need for more money to get by, and the tension with the local Sioux tribes who are being starved by the American government and are taking it out on the new settlers.  Meanwhile, Karl-Oscar’s brother Robert decides to seek his fortune in the California Gold Rush in one of the film’s most haunting sequences, and brings back with him only tragedy.  Significantly longer than the previous chapter, this one isn’t invigorated by the central motivation of travel that the first film’s action sprung from; here the plotting is much more picaresque, moving through the years and experiences of this family and their struggle to make their emigration efforts worthwhile.  Beautifully photographed and superbly performed, it draws you in with its finely etched details and by characters you take deeply into your heart.

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