7.7/10
3,907
47 user 25 critic

El Norte (1983)

R | | Drama | 27 January 1984 (USA)
Peasants escaping mindless labor and a murderous Guatemalan government head to America in hopes for something better.

Director:

Writers:

(story),

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ON DISC
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 3 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Arturo
...
...
Rosa
Alicia del Lago ...
Lupe
...
Informer
Jose Martin Ruano ...
Foreman
Stella Quan ...
Josefita
Heraclio Zepeda ...
Pedro (as Eraclio Zapeda)
Emilio Gomez Ozuna ...
Luis
Daniel Lemus Valenzuela ...
Encarnacion
Rodrigo Puebla ...
El Puma the Soldier
Yosahandi Navarrete Quan ...
Josefita's Daughter
Rodolfo De Alexandre ...
Ramon
Emilio Del Haro ...
Truck Driver
Jorge Moreno ...
Old Man on Bus
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Storyline

Mayan Indian peasants, tired of being thought of as nothing more than "brazos fuertes" ("strong arms", i.e., manual laborers) and organizing in an effort to improve their lot in life, are discovered by the Guatemalan army. After the army destroys their village and family, a brother and sister, teenagers who just barely escaped the massacre, decide they must flee to "El Norte" ("the North", i.e., the USA). After receiving clandestine help from friends and humorous advice from a veteran immigrant on strategies for traveling through Mexico, they make their way by truck, bus and other means to Los Angeles, where they try to make a new life as young, and undocumented immigrants. Written by Ed Cannon <ecannon@mail.utexas.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The magical film that reveals the world between the dream and the reality

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

|

Language:

| |

Release Date:

27 January 1984 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Au nord le paradis  »

Filming Locations:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The production of the film encountered major problems with Mexican police while shooting on location in Tijuana. According to director Gregory Nava: "One day, men with machine guns took over the set. I had guns pointed at my head. We were forced to shut down production, bribe our way out of the country, fight to get our costumes back, and start shooting again in California." Nava also recalled that Mexican police kidnapped the film's accountant and held him for ransom, and that his own parents had to pose as tourists to smuggle rolls of exposed film across the U.S. border. Back in California, Nava and his crew had to re-create a movie set of the Mexican shanty town where Rosa and Enrique stay before crossing the border. See more »

Goofs

When Rosa dies, Enrique cries and hugs her with his head on her chest. A closeup shows Rosa's hand on her stomach. The next, longer shot shows her hand is at the top of her thigh. See more »

Quotes

Jorge: Rosa... it doesn't matter!
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Connections

Featured in These Amazing Shadows (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

Overture to La Traviata
by Giuseppe Verdi
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User Reviews

 
Deeply moving film--highly recommended
5 December 2003 | by (Rockville MD) – See all my reviews

I saw El Norte (The North) some years ago when my then girlfriend (whose father was from Mexico) rented the video and made me watch it. I'm glad she did. It covers the very basic quest story of a brother and a sister who flee Guatemala (where the indigenous population was being exterminated) through Mexico to try and find a new life in the US. Along the way they encounter all the setbacks you would imagine, including a few you don't expect. This is a serious and dramatic film that is also not afraid to find the humor that can still occur in the midst of deep struggle.

I understand that this movie was made on a shoestring and at times it shows. But the story and the acting more than carry the day. Its creative team (Gregory Nava and his wife Anna Thomas) are also responsible for the movies Selena and Mi Familia (among others), both excellent films. I think that the real history of most people living on the earth, who live ordinary lives and struggle against sometimes oppressive forces outside their control, has largely gone unwritten. In its own small way, this movie begins to make up the deficit.

Excellent--highly recommended


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