The movie is based on the last two novels of the The Emigrants suite by Vilhelm Moberg: The Settlers and The Last Letter Home. It was adapted to the screen by Bengt Forslund and Jan Troell. It is a sequel to the 1971 film The Emigrants (Swedish: Utvandrarna), continuing from where that left off.
Starting a new life in the New World from almost nothing is not easy. The winters and summers are more extreme than in the Old. The immigrants are rewarded for their hard work and now live a better life than they did in Sweden. Bad times also come, however. The Civil War starts and the Sioux Indians make a bloody uprising against the White settlers. Karl-Oskar's family survives all these. His brother, Robert, decides to seek his fortune in the gold fields of California. He never reaches California, but acquires some fortune from his boss who dies of yellow fever on the way to the gold fields. An immigrant Swede dupes him of this fortune. Robert returns to his brother where he dies from a disease contracted on the trip. Kristina, whose thoughts never leave Sweden, gives birth several more times, finally getting pregnant again, against the advice of her doctor. This last pregnancy kills her. The children grow up and take over the farm. Karl-Oskar becomes old and lonely. He spends his last days dreaming of his youth in Sweden.