The Criterion Collection, Special Edition
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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 Gregory Nava's groundbreaking El Norte (The North), the personal travails of immigrants crossing the border to America had never been shown in the movies with such urgent humanism. A work of social realism imbued with dreamlike imagery, El Norte is a lovingly rendered, heartbreaking story of hope and survival, which critic Roger Ebert called a Grapes of Wrath for our time.
DIRECTOR-APPROVED SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES:
New, restored high-definition digital transfer supervised and approved by director Gregory Nava
New audio commentary featuring Nava
In the Service of the Shadows: The Making of El Norte: a new video program featuring interviews with Nava, producer and cowriter Anna Thomas, actors Zaide Silvia Gutiérrez and David Villalpando, and set designer David Wasco
Wall of Silence, a new short documentary by Nava and Barbara Martinez Jitner, concerning the building of the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border
The Journal of Diego Rodriguez Silva, the 1972 award-winning student film by Nava
Gallery of Chipas location-scouting photographs
New and improved English subtitle translation
PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by novelist Héctor Tobar and Roger Ebert's 1983 review of the film
A great film...stunning visual and musical power. --Roger Ebert
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USians think that the "Indian Wars" ended with Custer but it continues today...in the Amazon, in South America, in Palestine, in the Canadian First Nations tribes, and at Standing Rock, North Dakota.
Reminiscent of a Shakespearean tragedy, this moving, mystical, and artistic film always causes me to weep. It's a story of the Garden of Eden, of beautiful, trusting indigenous people, who, having lived in the garden in peace and harmony for millennia, are invaded, exploited, victimized, crushed, and in order to survive, forced to flee as refugees to a mythical "Promised Land", a land that turns out to be corrupt, alien, and heartless. As Enrique laments, "Yes Rosa...you can make a lot of money here but ...you pay so much...for everything." This is a must-see for those who really want to understand and empathize with the "refugee crisis," and to understand that we will all be refugees soon.
Enrique and Rosa, residents of a traditional Mayan village in the highlands of Guatemala, leave their pueblo in the aftermath of the deaths of several men, including their father, who had begun to develop plans to gain title to the land they had worked for centuries for rich landowners. The story is leavened by humor, such as Enrique's being tutored, to be mistook for a Mexican, to liberally sprinkle his Spanish with the "f" word. The two are depicted as being, to this viewer, as perhaps a bit less street savvy than people of their background would be. Their being shown as being so innocent makes the story much more gripping.
The humor continues in showing them on their jobs in the US. Rosa and her co-worker are so befuddled by the workings of their employers washing machine, that Rosa washes all their clothes by hand. Enrique gets a job in a fancy restaurant, with the obvious marked contrast between the world he came from and the milieu of the well dressed immaculately groomed patrons of the restaurant.
As expected in such a story, all good things must come to an end. Enrique is turned in to La Migra, and Rosa succumbs to an illness she had acquired while crawling through a sewage tunnel during their trip between Tijuana and the US.
I recently bought the Criterion Collection edition of El Norte, not having seen the film since it's original release in the early '80s. As I mentioned, the story is a bit dated, but overall, the truths it depicts haven't drastically changed. People will always seek to better their lives,and, to do so, as with the displaced children from Central America featured in current news stories, will continue to pursue the dream of El Norte.