The Emigrants (1971) - Plot Summary Poster



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  • 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.

  • It's the mid-nineteenth century in the rural parish of Ljuder, located in Småland, Sweden. Young married couple Karl Oskar and Kristina are owner farmers, who, along with their neighbors have been having a difficult time of late because of lack of rain and poor soil, which has resulted in disastrous crops for several years. They can't feed themselves or their livestock. Kristina is despondent as they have several children, Kristina always seeming to be pregnant, and she doesn't see their lives ever getting any better. She is always praying to God for some redemption. Karl Oskar's younger brother, Robert, works as a farmhand for Aron. A romantic at heart, Robert lives in miserable conditions and is treated poorly by sadistic Aron. They don't see their lot in life getting any better in part because of the rigid class system in place. Even Kristina's uncle, Danjel, a highly devout man, is not allowed to spread the word of God, as that is solely the job of the wealthy ordained, which in his class Danjel will never become. Because of what Robert has read of America and because they have neighbors with relations who have already moved, Karl Oskar is eventually able to persuade Kristina to emigrate to pursue a better life, they not knowing that Robert was planning on running away to America anyway. Many of their neighbors and relations also decide to make the same journey, specifically planning on moving to Minnesota where they already know people. For those among them that survive the difficult journey, they will find that America may not be quite what they were expecting. In addition, some among their party may have ideas different than what was originally envisioned for the group as a collective.

  • It is the middle of the 19th century. A young couple, Kristina and Karl-Oskar, live in Smaland - a small rural community in southern Sweden. They survive on a small plot of infertile land. Times are difficult: there is bad weather, the harvests are poor and hunger prevails. Hunger forces the couple's first-born child to secretly eat food that was not ready for eating. This leads to the child's death and convinces the mother to accept the decision of the father to emigrate to the US. They are joined by another family running away from religious persecution and a man running away from a troublesome wife. The rest of the film traces their difficult journey on a rickety sailing ship that takes ten weeks to make it across the Atlantic and the inland journey to what is now Minnesota where the emigrants that survived the journey would start their new life in the New World.


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