El Norte (1983)

R  |   |  Adventure, Drama, Thriller  |  27 January 1984 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 3,605 users   Metascore: 67/100
Reviews: 46 user | 25 critic | 5 from Metacritic.com

Peasants escaping mindless labor and a murderous Guatemalan government head to America in hopes for something better.



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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Ernesto Gómez Cruz ...
Zaide Silvia Gutiérrez ...
Alicia del Lago ...
Jose Martin Ruano ...
Stella Quan ...
Heraclio Zepeda ...
Pedro (as Eraclio Zapeda)
Emilio Gomez Ozuna ...
Daniel Lemus Valenzuela ...
Rodrigo Puebla ...
El Puma the Soldier
Yosahandi Navarrete Quan ...
Josefita's Daughter
Rodolfo De Alexandre ...
Emilio Del Haro ...
Truck Driver
Jorge Moreno ...
Old Man on Bus


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


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


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






| |

Release Date:

27 January 1984 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Au nord le paradis  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?


Coincidentally, both David Villalpando and Zaide Silvia Gutiérrez; who play brother and sister to each another, were born almost exactly ten months apart. Gutiérrez, like her character, is the younger. See more »


When Enrique sees that Rosa has died, for a couple seconds we still see her breathing. See more »


Jorge: Rosa... it doesn't matter!
See more »


Featured in Los Angeles Plays Itself (2003) See more »


Tierra Mestiza
Written by Gerardo Tamez
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User Reviews

Excellent movie about real life in the Americas
11 February 2004 | by (MN) – See all my reviews

Having taught illegal immigrants for decades, this movie intrigued me. From what I have been told by the parents of my students, this movie correctly depicts the lives of many of people who struggle to get to this country. I also know from working with older students, that the life shown in the movie in Southern California is also accurate.

When I taught college sociology classes, I made this movie mandatory viewing (along with "Emerald Forest" and "Belzaire the Cajun." Don't expect a 'feel-good' movie--it's not this one. Do expect to get a glimpse into the lives of millions of people who now live in the United States, and what it took to get here.

PS--Much of this movie is in the Spanish and South American Indian language (with subtitles). Block out the bottom of the screen if you want to practice your español. ¡Qué bueno! (Si, yo hablo español.)

10 of 13 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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DVD of El Norte coming Elnortefan
Meaning of the final scene? ladynata
Crossing the border-who helps them?? redvespagirl
When... when will it hit DVD? paulvinny
Where to buy? cody_gaffney
those two old ladies gman93189
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