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H D - S E N S E I

A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Emigrants aka "Utvandrarna" / The New Land aka "Nybyggarna" [Blu-ray]


(Jan Troell, 1971, 72)



coming out, on Criterion Blu-ray in the UK, October 10th, 2016:


Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Svensk Filmindustri (SF)

Video: Criterion Collection Spine #796 / #797



Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 3:12:05.514  / 3:22:35.935 

The Emigrants Disc Size: 48,026,039,156 bytes

The Emigrants Feature Size: 40,522,094,592 bytes

The New Land Disc Size: 48,863,666,322 bytes

The New Land Feature Size: 41,909,508,096 bytes

Video Bitrate: 24.50 Mbps / 23.98 Mbps

Chapters: 23 + 21

Case: Transparent Blu-ray case

Release date: February 9th, 2016



Aspect ratio: 1.66:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video


Audio (both):

LPCM Audio Swedish 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit


Subtitles (both):

English, none



• New introduction by theater and film critic John Simon (7:27)
New conversation between film scholar Peter Cowie and director Jan Troell (35:43)
New interview with actor Liv Ullmann (24:06)
To Paint with Pictures, an hour-long documentary from 2005 on the making of the films, featuring archival footage as well as interviews with Troell, Ullmann, producer and coscreenwriter Bengt Forslund, actor Eddie Axberg, and composer Georg Oddner (56:56)
Trailers (4:36, 4:05)
PLUS: An essay by critic Terrence Rafferty



The Emigrants



The New Land




Description: This monumental mid-nineteenth-century epic from Jan Troell charts, over the course of two films, a Swedish farming family’s voyage to America and their efforts to put down roots in this beautiful but forbidding new world. Movie legends Max Von Sydow and Liv Ullmann give remarkably authentic performances as Karl Oskar and Kristina, a couple who meet with one physical and emotional trial after another on their arduous journey. The precise, minute detail with which Troell depicts the couple’s story—which is also that of countless other people who sought better lives across the Atlantic—is a wonder to behold. Engrossing at every step of the way, the duo of The Emigrants and The New Land makes for perhaps the greatest screen drama about the settling of America.




The Emigrants:

First half of a two-film adaptation of a quartet of novels by Vilhelm Moberg: an austere, long, and picturesque recreation of the hardships which led Swedish farmers in the 1850s to leave home and travel in search of a better life in America. It's very slow, subtly acted, and if you can last the course, quite moving. Troell not only directed, but also photographed, co-scripted and edited the film, which becomes something of an assertion of human courage, determination and dignity. The second part, The New Land, deals with the pioneers' arrival and settlement in America.

Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE


Director/writer Jan Troell's expansive saga deals with the Larsen family, who during the 19th century famine in Sweden emigrate to the more fertile fields of Minnesota. With painstaking detail, the director follows the Larsens as they make the perilous (and, to some of their fellow immigrants, fatal) journey by foot, steamer, train, and paddle boat. The film, which originally ran 190 minutes but was pared down to 150 by its director for American consumption, earned Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, Best Foreign Language Picture, Best Screenplay, Best Direction, and Best Actress (Liv Ullmann). The Emigrants was followed by a sequel, Nybyggarna ("The New Land"); both films have been edited together for TV release under the title The Emigrant Saga. The subsequent American TV series The New Land (1974) starred Bonnie Bedelia in the role created in The Emigrants by Liv Ullmann, and Scott Thomas in the patriarch role originated by Max von Sydow. In 1991, Sven Nykvist directed a "prequel" to The Emigrants titled The Ox.

The New Land:

What he has achieved seems no less than a masterly exercise in film-making, a rare union of carefully nuanced performances from a cast led by Max von Sydow and Liv Ullmann, a use of sight and sound that beggars, at least by its aspirations, the work of more easily satisfied men and a long but selective narrative as alert to the sins that taint national history as it is sensitive to the small dramas that ultimately seal the course and quality of lives.

The uniform excellence of "The New Land" (and "The Emigrants," which opened here little more than a year ago) is no accident.

Mr. Troell is credited with the direction, the editing and part of the screenplay and also with the photography, which could be mistaken as gratuitously lavish, were it not so sensitive to telling detail and were nature not so powerful a force in the rural lives these films depict.

Mr. Troell is a busy and flexible workman, as willing to use silence to make a point as he is to turn his soundtrack over to the song of unseen birds in the spring, to bees in the summer and to flies in the presence of death.

Excerpt from The NY Times located HERE


Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Both, 3+ hour, films looks impressive - housed on their own individual dual-layered Blu-rays - both sporting bitrates in the mid-twenties - spectacularly film-like, textured, crisp and with beautiful, realistic colors. The transfers are similar - both are 1080P and extolling the stunning cinematography of Troell with extensive outdoor scenes that could reside in a nature documentary (shot in Minnesota, Denmark and Sweden.) The Blu-rays from Criterion presents a slightly textured, rich image. The contrast is marvelous and, we presume, a solid representation of the 1.66:1 aspect ratio films. There is occasional depth and detail has surprisingly tight moments in close-up. This Blu-ray looked just wonderful on my system without damage, speckles or any noise. In a word - 'flawless', with only a smattering of less-consistent thickness at the conclusion of The Emigrants.




The Emigrants













The New Land













Audio :

Criterion use a linear PCM mono track in the original Swedish at 1152 kbps for both films.  There isn't a lot of depth but dialogue is completely clear and clean. For The Emigrants the score is by Erik Nordgren (Troell's Here is Your Life, Bergman's Through a Glass Darkly, The Virgin Spring, The Magician, Wild Strawberries, The Seventh Seal) and it sounds magnificent in the lossless. For The New Land the score is by Georg Oddner (his only screen composure credit) and Bengt Ernryd (I Am Curious (Yellow) among his credits) - while different than the first film - supports the visuals equally as well sounding impressive via the uncompressed.  There are optional English subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A' disc.


Extras :

Criterion augment this fabulous release with some wonderful supplements. There is a new (recorded by Criterion October 2015) 7.5 minute introduction by theater and film critic John Simon who talks about the importance of director Jan Troell's epic tale of immigration. Criterion also recorded a new, 35-minute, conversation between film scholar Peter Cowie and director Jan Troell covering many insightful topics. We also benefit from a new, 24-minute, interview with actor Liv Ullmann who talks about the challenges and joys of playing Kristina, the heroine of The Emigrants and The New Land, the role she credits with bringing her international stardom. To Paint with Pictures, is a 56-minute documentary from 2005 on the making of both films, featuring archival footage as well as interviews with Troell, Ullmann, producer and co-screenwriter Bengt Forslund, actor Eddie Axberg, and composer Georg Oddner. It is in Swedish with English subtitles. There is also lengthy trailers for both films (ion their respective discs) and the package has a liner notes booklet with an essay by critic Terrence Rafferty.



My goodness... this is another reason I love Criterion. What a fabulous package. It's hard to put into words the grandeur of these films. I was enjoying them so much - even at their extensive length - I didn't want the experience to end - and look forward to repeating it one day soon. Troell is a recent discovery for me and I'm so happy that Criterion are bringing more of his incredible cinema to Blu-ray. You really couldn't ask for more. This will easily be recognized in our year-end poll for 2016. We whole-heartedly give this two Blu-ray set our highest recommendation at twice the price. Don't hesitate. 

Gary Tooze

January 14th, 2016


coming out, on Criterion Blu-ray in the UK, October 10th, 2016:


About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze






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