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National Geographic - Wetback: The Undocumented Documentary (2006)

Arturo Perez Torres  |  NR |  DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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National Geographic - Wetback: The Undocumented Documentary + The Other Side Of Immigration + Which Way Home
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Product Details

  • Directors: Arturo Perez Torres
  • Writers: Arturo Perez Torres
  • Producers: Heather Haynes
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Nat'l Geographic Vid
  • DVD Release Date: February 6, 2007
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000KF0DKM
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #208,103 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "National Geographic - Wetback: The Undocumented Documentary" on IMDb

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

Filmmaker Arturo Perez Torres follows in the footsteps of two friends traveling on an extraordinary and extremely dangerous journey from Central America to North America. On their journey they encounter gangs and vigilantes as well as border patrol. But these immigrants navigate real-life nightmares with uncanny calm, grace and even humor in their perilous pursuit of the a better life.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
39 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a humanity film... April 10, 2008
Format:DVD
Wetback: The Undocumented Documentary is an astoundingly well put together documentary of the lives of people who risk their lives just to survive in this world. As many people know, life in Central America, Mexico and many other countries is exceptionally difficult. Because of near starvation families in these countries must decide if they wish one of their younger men to make the remarkably dangerous journey to the United States in search of money to send back home.

I must admit I never knew the extent of the dangers these immigrants face. Even if they are successful, they must practically cheat death several times during their journey. Particularly in Mexico this film shows us how immigrants are not just treated like animals--indeed, they are raped, robbed of all their money and even killed if their captors just happen to feel like killing them.

Wetback proves that these immigrants, legal or not, are truly desperate to find a better way of life instead of starvation and poverty in their native lands. We learn that these people, men and women, don't want to be in the United States any more than some Americans want them out! They know they must stay so that their family members back home must survive.

For a particularly dramatic effect the documentary Wetback films the hazardous trip of two young men from Central America on their way to the states. We hear them tell their stories when they stop at "safe houses" in Mexico and other countries on their way. These "safe houses" are run by the local Catholic Churches; but unfortunately they are so crowded that these immigrants can only stay an average of three days.

I was struck by just how hard it is for an illegal immigrant to cross the Rio Grande River from Mexico into the USA.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An eye-opening experience for Undergraduate students August 23, 2009
Format:DVD
This documentary takes a frank and at times, graphic look at the indignities that men and women have to endure in their quest for the American Dream. After this film many will think hard and deeply about how they treat their fellow man and their own stereotypes. A must see for any class that deals with immigration.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wetback - Inside The Journey Over Multiple Borders July 14, 2009
Format:DVD
I found 'Wetback' to be an emotional and thought-provoking documentary. However, if you plan on showing this video as part of a middle or secondary-school lesson plan, be forewarned that there is brief male nudity.

The filmmaker did an excellent job with stunning imagery. At one point, a series of still photographs are shown, every picture revealing a single or double-amputee, left this way after falling or being pushed off the top of a moving freight train by bandits in Mexico that prey on illegal migrants who are crossing the border from Central America.

I recommend this DVD.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Poignant and Timely May 25, 2014
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
It is difficult to watch this video because of the emotion it produces. We sometimes forget that the boundaries between Mexico and the United States are political and cultural rather than physical. Both nations are part of North America, though quite different in values and laws. As we approach the time when politicians are ready to declare an amnesty for illegal immigrants the film is important. Yet we cannot ignore the fact that as a nation we must maintain borders, and we cannot allow the uncontrolled influx of immigrants. We must also realize that the issue of immigration in the 19th and 20th Century is far different from the issue of immigration in the 21st Century. In this regard the film places too much emphasis on emotion rather than the reality of how are we as a society able to absorb the economic and sociological consequences of this uncontrolled exodus from Mexico. In addition we cannot ignore the movement emerging in the Southwest that views our possession of the Southwestern U.S. States as illegal. There is a strong movement that wants to unite our Southwestern States with Mexico as it was before the Mexican American War. These people are serious in pursuit of those goals making these immigrants different from past immigrants. After watching it you will realize our nation and children are in for some very difficult times.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD
This documentary depicts the struggles illegal immigrants deal with in their homeland, in the process of their migration to the us, and finally the abuse they deal with when they finally make it to this country. The stories of each of the immigrants brings tears to my eyes. The poverty that these poor people live in is depressing, their only hope is to make a better life for themselves. In the process of trying to escape their poverty stricken countries they encounter people with no compassion who rob, rape, incarcerate, or kill them such as police, gangs, vigilantes, or border patrol. I recommend this documentary to be watched to have a better understanding on why these working class people decide to even come to this country with only hope and determination that continues to keep them going.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Antidote to the Poison June 2, 2012
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
"Wetback" is a vital documentary. Instead of a third person presentation of material (a la "Frontline") or activist presentation (a la Barbara Koppel or Michael Moore or Morgan Spurlock), this is the old first person documentary style. The film maker either is or feigns being a naif at the art of cinema, and he follows two of his real life friends, as they decide to leave Nicaragua for America. The camera and audio just follow, and the outside perspectives come from government ministers in Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras, as well as safe house operators, and there are extensive interviews with U.S. Border Patrol and the paranoiac vigilante groups.

The film maker is honest, but he is also committed to presenting a narrative. His two friends turn back, but his film continues on by simply picking up new migrants to follow. We can never be sure the degree of editing with the interviews, although the DVD provides, on its "extras," copious documentation.

I used the documentary for a college class and found, to my dismay, that there was something I had not remembered from the television showings of the film. There is a scene with full frontal male nudity, and there are four or five offensive words.

For any individual American, this is a vital documentary. For educational purposes, it's extremely useful, with caveats.
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