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El Norte (1983)

R | | Drama | 27 January 1984 (USA)
1:32 | Trailer

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



Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 3 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
See  »

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 »


Referenced in The Shawshank Redemption (1994) See more »


De Natura Sonoris #2
by Krzysztof Penderecki
See more »

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User Reviews

Coming to America--the untold chapter
11 April 2000 | by (Pasadena, CA) – See all my reviews

Gregory Nava's drama, "El Norte," is hands-down the best film ever made about the Latin American immigrant experience in the US. It's also one of the best films of the 80's.

Wonderfully acted and expertly directed, this film will make you think twice about the "invisible" people who clean your house, watch your kids, make your food, garden your yard, wash your car, etc. This movie puts a face to those people and their day-to-day struggles here in this country. It's not always a pretty picture.

Although this film is fictional, at times it feels like a documentary. It's not a documentary however, because it's also quite funny and it contains elements of magical realism.

This film is a landmark of Latino filmmaking in the US. Watch it today!

22 of 22 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
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