The physical and religious world are the same in this regard: both require you to walk through “hell” in order to *hopefully* get to heaven. Jan Troell’s first part of two connected movies, The Emigrant is a selflessly passive, patient, objective, yet intentionally painful and laborious overview of the mid-19th century immigration experience. Whether it has you eroded by the abusive mundanity of a poverty-struck and authoritative Swedish settlement or stomached once casted into the claustrophobic conditions of the commonly spotty sailings to the United States, Troell evidently has accomplished what he must’ve set out to do in the first place: allow us to authentically feel those terrors that were hefted upon thousands of people who simply wanted to know what a happy life would be like by searching for it across seas.
Let’s see what The New Land (1972) has to add to the conversation though.
“The Emigrants” is now available to purchase from The Criterion Collection.