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El Norte - Criterion Collection
El Norte - Criterion Collection
Actors: Zaide Silvia Gutierrez, David Villalpando
Director: Gregory Nava
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
R     2009     2hr 20min

Brother and sister Enrique and Rosa flee persecution at home in Guatemala and journey north, through Mexico and on to the United States, with the dream of starting a new life. It s a story that happens every day, but until...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Zaide Silvia Gutierrez, David Villalpando
Director: Gregory Nava
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Family Life, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Criterion
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 01/20/2009
Original Release Date: 01/01/1983
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1983
Release Year: 2009
Run Time: 2hr 20min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaDVD Credits: 2
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 16
Edition: Special Edition,Criterion Collection
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English, Spanish
Subtitles: English
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Movie Reviews

Milton Lopez | Winnetka, California United States | 05/07/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I have never seen a better movie than this one, I will never see another movie like this one.
It is a "masterpiece", it is the only movie that is based on the reality of the world (filmed in Guatemala, Mexico and United States) not only it showed the life of the 80's (the massacres of people by the governments of our countries) and it also tells how and why most of us came to this country "The North" seeking not only refugee but also a new life after being abused and tortured by the law enforcement of the Central American governments. This is the case of a brother and sister who's father is decapitated and tortured by the Guatemalan soldiers just because they don't agree with the way rich people treated their countrymen. THE BEST MOVIE EVER !... Subtitled both English/Español and Español/English. A must have, a must see."
Much Better Than Survival Shows
MaryAnn Gorka | Gibsonia, PA United States | 08/25/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I purchased a copy of this film in the 80's. It is one of the most powerful statements about the kinds of things which were happening in Central America during a time when most Americans lived in belief of their government's lies. It also is a most powerful statement about family and the strength one draws from that connection. The real problems in adjusting to a different culture without losing those values with which one has been raised is also a theme of this movie. I still rank it as one of the best movies I have ever seen. I would like a copy again as mine disappeared to one of the people to whom I lent it. If it becomes available in either DVD or VHS I would certainly recommend the purchase and I would be first in line. El Norte.....que magnifico!!!!!!!"
Illegal immigrants in the Promised Land. Eye opening!
Linda Linguvic | New York City | 04/16/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"El Norte depicts the plight of a brother and sister. They are Mayan Indians living in Guatemala but after their father is murdered in a rebellion and their mother is arrested, they have to flee their country to save their lives. They are headed north, through Mexico and then on the United States, which, like so many immigrants before them, seems like the Promised Land of electricity, flush toilets and big cars. First they have to travel through Mexico and make believe they are Mexicans. When they finally get to Tijuana they have the difficult task of finding a way across the border without being robbed by the many unsavory characters who all compete for their small amount of money. Their first attempt ends in failure but eventually they make it by crawling on their hands and knees through a sewer pipe where they are attacked by rats. Once in Los Angeles their lives seem to improve, but they soon discover the reality of being illegal. This is not a happy story and the ending is sad and left me with a feeling of hopelessness. One of the most striking things about the film is its innocence. It certainly was filmed on a shoestring budget and has none of the special effects we've come to expect in Hollywood films. Sometimes it had the look and feel of an amateur production, the violence looked staged, the camera often focusing on a full moon rather than or more complex shots. The acting, however, was so good that I forgot they were acting and soon was completely involved in this very human story. It was plain and simple real life. And there was humor here too, especially when the young woman gets a maid's job and has to learn to use a washing machine. However, like real life, things don't always work out for the best. I guess I've always been aware of the plight of illegal immigrants. But I have never felt it more deeply than through this film. Highly recommended."
Don't expect a domestic release while Junior's in the White
D. Hartley | Seattle, WA USA | 01/05/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"In today's climate of post 9/11 paranoia and self-appointed "minutemen" who "guard" our borders, it's a shame this outstanding drama (originally a PBS "American Playhouse") is only available as an Australian PAL import, because more Americans need to see it. But of course, films like this are dangerous, because it might remind viewers that this country was built on the backs of immigrants who were driven from thier homelands by oppression and persecution (I am encouraged by another review on this site to see that there are some educators who see the value in showing this film to students!) Gregory Nava's highly effective portrait of Guatemalan siblings winnowing thier way to "El Norte" (the USA) after thier father is killed by a government death squad will haunt you for weeks. The two (unknown) leads give believable, natural performances as the brother and sister who ultimately find themselves living in L.A. After initially going through the expected exploitative sweat shop and day labor jobs, the pair eventually "move up" (relatively speaking) to housecleaning and food service jobs that hint at the promise of more stability and a brighter future. Fate and circumstance continue to fight them at every turn, but thier desperate optimism never falters. Don't expect a Hollywood ending- the generally bleak and uncompromising nature of the story may turn off viewers who are not prepared for an intense emotional experience (i.e. don't watch it if you are in a "popcorn" mood). Claustrophobes be warned-the most harrowing scene, a border crossing through an abandoned sewer, includes an encounter with a roving rat colony that will give you nightmares. Look for brief appearances by A. Martinez and Trinidad Silva. DVD note: The transfer is not quite as dismal as others have said (I think the reviewer confused a 16mm master print with a "bad transfer")."