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Friday, December 5, 2014

283 of 1001 Movies: El Norte (1983)

If there were two movies that relate to what is going on in America right now that I would recommend watching, one would be Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing, and the other would be El Norte. I was surprised by how much the movie did move me. The movie explores a lot of things that many people may not be aware of regarding who immigrants are, the lives they come from, and even how they live once arriving to the U.S.

Summary: Enrique and Rosa's village in Guatemala is ravaged in the Guatemalan Civil War. The only way to continue to survive, and attempt to make a better live for themselves is to head north, where they have heard much about the wealthy livelihood many have claimed to find there. After the struggles to get there, including attempted robbery and having to go through the dirtiest and darkest place to the border, they find that the U.S. is as they hoped...for at least a couple of weeks or so that is. They both begin to quickly learn the threat of deportation and how easy it is to be taken advantage of with all the fear and courage it took to get here.

 The movie is intriguing because the director, Gregory Nava, grew up near the border in California. He had many relatives that did live in Mexico across the border, that he would go to visit. It's intriguing that he's used his experience and time growing up as a citizen who is Hispanic in a way to create such a complex and moving movie. I also was unaware that PBS sometimes financed movies, which they partly did with this one. The movie would be nominated for an Oscar that involved the screenplay, which was much deserved.

There were a few scenes that really stood out to me. One was the scene where Enrique is offered a job that could potentially offer him a better life and pay in Chicago. What he thinks as an act of kindness though he mistakes for essentially what seems to be the American way. In the scene he's very excited and overwhelmed with the prospect, while the lady who is offering it is cold and finds him replaceable if he declines. To take the job he would have to also leave his sister, Rosa. The family unit is something that Enrique highly values, but to get by he will have to leave her.

I won't give away the ending, but the ending is also very memorable, and one to leave you speechless. I have to say that if you get the chance to view it with someone that the ending is definitely one worth discussing and exploring, and it goes from a tale that seems to be one that can be taken at face value, to one that drops over into fantasy, but dark fantasy.

I can warn that this movie isn't light viewing. It sits heavy after you've seen it, especially after you pick up on what is implied happened to one of the characters. If you still have the same views regarding immigrants after viewing this, well then I don't know what to say. It's insightful, well acted, and the story is well done. I viewed this movie alone, which I think was best as there is a lot to take in, and it's easier for me to follow, especially with a movie as serious as this.

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