In the middle of the 19th century, a young couple, Kristina and Karl-Oskar, live in Smaland - a small rural community in southern Sweden. They survive on a small plot of infertile land. Times are difficult: there is bad weather, the harvests are poor, and hunger prevails. Hunger forces the couple's first-born child to secretly eat food that was not ready to be eaten. Their child dies as a result, and her death convinces Kristina to agree to Karl-Oskar's desire to emigrate to the US. They are joined by Karl-Oskar's brother, Robert, another family that is escaping religious persecution, and a man running away from a troublesome wife. The film traces their difficult ten-week journey on a rickety sailing ship across the Atlantic, then an inland journey to what is now Minnesota. The emigrants survive the journey and start their life in the New World.