Format: Video from The Magic Flashdrive on laptop.
I’ve written a lot of reviews on this site, so I’m never really sure what I’ve mentioned before or not. For The Emigrants (Utvandrarna), a story of a family emigrating from Sweden to the United States, I feel like I have something close to a personal connection. My grandmother, Anna Hansen, was not Swedish, but Danish. She came to America by herself in 1910, claiming to be 16, although the family story is that she may have been 14. It’s a staggering thing to consider, moving across an ocean alone to a country where she didn’t know the language at such a young age. I have a reproduction of her arrival documents from Ellis Island and a picture of her ship. It’s an interesting connection to my family’s past, and certainly something that connects me in some ways to this movie. Okay, the movie concerns Sweden and she was from Denmark, but there are a lot of similarities.
The Emigrants is a good three hours long, and for a film that is about emigration, it’s an interesting choice that the first half takes place in Sweden and only the last quarter or so actually takes place in the United States and consists of our Swedes getting from New York to Minnesota (of course). Primarily, we are concerned with the Nilsson family. Karl Oskar (Max von Sydow) has inherited his family farm from his father and is soon married to Kristina (Liv Ullmann) and raising a family. The farm appears cursed, though, with crops ruined by heat and weather. Meanwhile, Karl Oskar’s brother Robert (Eddie Axberg) takes work as a farmhand under an exceedingly cruel master. It is here that he meets Arvid (Pierre Lindstedt), who is a little slow, but a good friend. Eventually, after a fierce beating, Robert runs away despite having agreed to work the farm for a year.