Sweet Land - A Love Story
Inge (Elizabeth Reaser) is a feisty German mail-order bride who has come to Minnesota to marry Olaf (Tim Guinee), a young Norwegian immigrant farmer of few words. But in a post-WWI, anti-German climate, the local minister (John Heard) openly forbids the marriage. Inge and Olaf fall in love despite the town's disapproval. But when the town banker (Ned Beatty) attempts to foreclose on the farm of his friend Frandsen (Alan Cumming), Olaf takes a stand...and the community unites around the young couple, finally accepting Inge as one of their own.
Adapted from a Will Weaver story, Ali Selim's Sweet Land is a truly sweet story about unlikely immigrant lovers whose struggle for integration into 1920's America earns them a work ethic more American than many of their narrow-minded neighbors. Set in rural Minnesota, the sentimental film focuses on tribulations that Scandinavian settlers experienced, with a cinematic serenity reminiscent of Terrence Malik's Days of Heaven. Norwegian farmer Olaf Torvik (Tim Guinee) invites a non-English speaking German siren, Inge Alltenburg (Elizabeth Reaser), to relocate and marry him, but discovers that neither the town's Lutheran pastor (John Heard) nor the local judge will marry a German into their community for fear of wartime German spies. Inge finds friendship in neighbors Frandsen (Alan Cumming) and his wife, Brownie (Alex Kingston), who disregarding local gossip, welcome her into their home. Finally, Inge proves herself, settling in so that Sweet Land's historical narrative is framed by Inge, fifty years later, speaking to her adult son about her husband's death and their plot of land. This multi-generational tale of social acceptance and land ownership is ultimately the story of America, though the regional specificity of Sweet Land will speak especially to those familiar with Midwestern culture. --Trinie Dalton
- Audio Commentary
- Theatrical Trailer
- Labor of Love: The Making of Sweet Land
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For those who thought the film was confusing and didn't introduce characters properly... I'm not sure exactly what to say to that. I appreciate subtlety and nuance if it's done well, and this film does that. If you need to be hit over the head with details because you're not paying close enough attention, then this film isn't for you.
To Ali Selim, if you're reading this: A lot of fans of this movie (myself included) hope you make more films soon!
PS The girl with the gramophone is a great symbol of what she wants to bring into the foreign land with herself: music and happiness! I find this to be the producer's vision and motto throughout the whole movie. The girl's pure heart is reaching out to us beyond cultural differences and pseudo-political xenophobia, which seems to abide with us "forever," no matter the fact that we call ourselves "a country of immigrants" (to quote JFK) and "a melting pot" (to quote all our primary school teachers). I cherish this movie as another POV into the hot subject of immigration, told from the "other side of the coin."
This film is the most perfect, most moving, most uplifting piece of cinematic art I have ever experienced. I had the infinite good fortune of a great friend and very special person introducing this experience (loaning the DVD) to me perhaps 6 months ago. Since then I've watched, listened to and absorbed this film at least 10 times, including 4 in the past month, and twice on this night.
This is the story of "ordinary", hard working people - the very backbone that created the United States. They are of a character all too scarce in country today. They believed they were entitled to nothing - worked for everything. Does that describe your neighbors? Does it describe you?
Of infinitely greater importance, it is a love story. It is a magnificent love story.
"Let us hope that we are all preceded in this world by a love story."
We can ask for little more, of any significance.
You would do well to add this movie and its lessons to your life experiences.
Norwegian. All of them tried homesteading/farming in North Dakota AND Alberta
before moving to the Pacific Northwest to live in a house, on a city lot, and work for wages.
"Banking and farming don't mix" - my relatives who are still out there on the
Great Plains farming live by this bit of folk wisdom - and have for over a hundred years.
The romance in this movie may - or may not - be typical. But when I chase the history of those who emigrated from Norway, I don't know if you could even describe "typical". Chance played a huge role in who met whom, who married whom and settled where ever.
These folks sailed away from Norway ,or Germany, or....into an unknown and uncertain future.
I believe this movie PERFECTLY captures the role played by chance, circumstance,
character, and HARD WORK in settling the West.