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MAY 24 & 25

The story of America is not just an American story. As the title of Jan Troell’s The Emigrants indicates, the new country’s settlers were of intense interest to the people they left behind. Adapted from novels by Vilhelm Moberg, the director’s The Emigrants (pictured, Saturday at 2 p.m.) and its companion piece, Unto a Good Land (Sunday at 6 p.m.) tell of Karl and Kristina Nilsson (Max von Sydow and Liv Ullmann) and several of their friends and relatives, who leave hopeless lives in Sweden for hard but promising ones in Minnesota. The first film follows the characters from their decision to leave Sweden to their arrival in North America; the second features the characters’ involvement in the Civil War, Indian rebellions, and Gold Rush fever. Each film is more than three hours long, and no one has ever suggested they’re fast-moving. Still, they’re rich and powerful, and mainstream enough that both were nominated for foreign-film Oscars. At the National Gallery of Arts’s East Building Auditorium, 4th & Constitution Ave. NW. FREE. (202) 737-4215. (Mark Jenkins)