Shot back to back with 1971’s The Emigrants (see review here: https://cinetalk.net/2017/01/15/classics-the-emigrants-utvandrarna-sweden-1971-191mins/), Jan Troell’s The New Land (Nybyggarna, 1972) picks up right where its prequel left off. It features the same crew and cast (minus several deceased characters) headed by Liv Ullmann and Max Von Sydow. Only music duty (The Emigrants was notorious Erik Nordgren’s last scoring assignment), with Bengt Ernryd and Georg Oddner as appointed composers, offers a significant change especially in the later half of this second instalment.
In The New Land, The group of freshly Americanized 19th century Swedish immigrants works the earth under extreme conditions and difficult circumstances. Some leave for adventure in California because of the gold fever, women give birth at an alarming rate, they face an uprising by the natives while the American civil war is at their door… Welcome to America.
As The Emigrants went to the Oscars, in five major categories, The New Land was nominated, the same evening, in the Best Foreign Language Film category. The Foreign Oscar went to Luis Bunuel’s classic, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972).
The second part also begins with slow, but eventually rewarding, pacing and build up leading to more experimental structures after the intermission. There is a captivating, if less appealing to a wider audience than The Emigrants, long flashback sequence focusing on one character without dialogues or sound, other then percussive music (Birdman anyone?). Different, much darker in tones, this second part is as majestic as the first one and is simply inseparable from it.
Once again it is important to point out the film should be seen in its 204 minutes full length version with Blue ray quality (or 35mm pristine print) or not at all, as this is the only way to fully appreciate Troell’s personal signature as a filmmaker/ cinematographer.
Jan Troell’s The Emigrants/The New Land are masterpieces of World Cinema.