13 October 2016

THE CRITERION COLLECTION PRESENTS: THE NEW LAND. (1972) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS.




THE NEW LAND. (1972) BASED ON 'THE SETTLERS' AND 'THE LAST LETTER HOME' FROM 'THE EMIGRANTS' SUITE' BY VILHELM MOBERG. DIRECTED BY JAN TROELL. WRITTEN BY JAN TROELL AND BENGT FORSLUND.
STARRING MAX VON SYDOW, LIV ULLMAN, MONICA ZETTERLUND, EDDIE AXBERG AND PIERRE LINDSTEDT.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This extraordinary film is the sequel to Jan Troell's 1971 epic, THE EMIGRANTS. THE EMIGRANTS is a huge sprawling undertaking of a movie that tells the story of a Swedish farming family's decision to leave Sweden for North America in the mid-nineteenth century.

The impoverished Nilssons, Karl Oskar and Kristina, don't take this decision lightly. After years of trying to make a go of things on their farm in a small village in Sweden, they finally decide that they're swimming against the tide. Everything, from the weather to the soil, is against them. When you're beat, you're beat, right...?

They pack up their bits and pieces and take the boat to America, along with half their village, who've also thrown in the towel. The first film shows us the horrific privations they endure on the ten-week voyage to America, then the movie ends when they finally reach their promised land and Karl Oskar picks out a nice green patch of earth for them to settle on.

THE NEW LAND takes up the story literally where THE EMIGRANTS left off. We actually see Karl Oskar bringing his pregnant missus Kristina and their brood of blonde-haired sproglets to the bit of land he's picked out for them.

From then on, it's all go as Karl Oskar builds them a fine big house to live in and a barn for the animals while Kristina obligingly pops out a few more rugrats like the good little wifey she is.

Her fertility becomes an issue in this film as her doctor tells her that, after all the pregnancies, births and miscarriages she's endured, her inside workings are torn to buggery and even one more pregnancy could kill her. Do the horny Swedes stop making the-beast-with-two-backs? Do they f**k...! But I'm not telling you any more than that, you eager-beaver little readers, you.

Karl Oskar is a hard worker and the farming end of things takes shape in no time. Over time, more Swedes come and settle in the area and they even build a church for themselves and a school for the kids and everything. They're well set up anyway, and doing at least as well as they did at home, if not better. They've got neighbours and a little town nearby and so they're not entirely isolated.

It's certainly not all plain sailing for the humble little family, however. Karl Oskar's younger brother Robert, tempted by the lure of easy money, leaves the farm to pan for gold in California, bringing his best mate Arvid along with him for the ride. Their terrible adventures are shown to us via a series of gruesome flashbacks and I'm authorised to tell you that only one of them ever returns to the farm...

There's a problem, too, with the local Indians- the Sioux- who periodically wander onto the farm to look for food because they're starving due to their problems with the government. Towards the end of the film, the Sioux commit an atrocity against the settlers which you won't forget in a hurry.

Their desperate actions are followed by swift and bloody retribution which is a matter of historical record now. It's hard to watch, especially as we know that the bits about the Sioux Uprising of 1862 are true.

We see Karl Oskar volunteering to fight in the Civil War, much to his wife's disapproval on religious grounds, and the town 'whore' from the last film, Ulrika, finding happiness with a new love. We don't see any more of her daughter Elin, which is a pity. In the last film, it looked like Robert would make a play for Elin in the sequel. Ah well. Them's the breaks, haha.

Check out the scene in which we find out how the Indians 'store' their dead for the winter until the ground is once more thawed-out enough for digging and proper burial. It's fascinating. Listen to the horny male settlers discussing the difference between Indian 'pussy' and Swedish 'pussy.' The dirty beasts...! 

Again, as in the first film, the cinematography is breath-taking and the scenery to die for and there's a lovely emotional childbirth scene in there as well. Karl Oskar and the beautiful Kristina have a solid, steady, loving and pretty much equal relationship, which I'm sure was unusual enough for the time, and it's heart-warming to watch how the 'two best friends stick together' through thick and thin.

Anyway, the good news is that both these three-hour-long films, THE EMIGRANTS and THE
NEW LAND, are available on Blu-Ray right now from THE CRITERION COLLECTION, complete with some rather spiffing extra features. 

These include interviews, trailers and a free essay that will all keep you as happy as Larry for hours on end. Well, unless you guys are Fussy Freddies and are particularly difficult to please, that is, haha.

I watched the films over the course of two evenings- it took a whopping six hours and a half overall- and the funny thing is that I was never bored, not even for a second. If that's not a sign of a great 'settling in America in the bad old days' epic, I honest-to-God don't know what is...!

 AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

 You can contact Sandra at:


http://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com







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