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El Norte

El Norte

1983
Drama
Suspense/Thriller
2h 21m
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)... (imdb)
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El Norte

1983
Drama
Suspense/Thriller
2h 21m
Your probable score
Avg Percentile 65.59% from 252 total ratings

Ratings & Reviews

(252)
Compact view
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Rated 15 Oct 2020
100
96th
Whenever I watch a movie, I tend to think of ways that I would strip parts out to make the film more streamlined. I never spent a moment of El Norte thinking of that. Each scene was gorgeously shot and it never seemed to linger on anything longer than it should. The story is powerful and especially moving right now. I was inspired by the main characters ability to keep going throughout. But, this movie wasn't all hardships there were beautiful moments of friendship and love as well.
Rated 14 Aug 2007
96
98th
The two lead actors project such sweetness and innocence and sibling love that it is truly heartbreaking to watch their spirits gradually get crushed. This is a bitter and moving look at the empty promise of the "American dream." It's not especially subtle or sophisticated, and maybe somewhat manipulative, but it always touches me. The music is also wonderful (except perhaps for the over-reliance on Barber's "Adagio for Strings").
Rated 21 May 2009
20
44th
Nava, an American, starts from a standpoint well on the outside of the people and their culture, and makes little headway toward narrowing the gap. This can have certain advantages, as in the amount of anthropological, or just touristic, documentation done by Nava. But two hours and twenty minutes is time enough to have made the two siblings into something more than stick figures
Rated 10 Dec 2009
71
50th
Politically interesting without being polemical, and deeply moving.
Rated 21 Mar 2009
40
96th
"...a deeply moving film that is simultaneously entrancing, horrifying, sad, and profoundly humane."
Rated 10 Apr 2009
85
81st
The multitude of styles is both the film's greatest strength and its main weakness. The heavy realism combined with bits of surrealism allow it to show both actions and emotions genuinely while avoiding melodrama and the short scenes help the pace feel quick despite the length as whole. The acting isn't great but the emotions feel so honest that they overcome the occasionally mediocre delivery. It made a bold choice with the ending that worked, but for some reason didn't hit me like it could've.
Rated 12 Apr 2009
60
47th
Depressing but not engaging or illuminating
Rated 01 Sep 2009
80
64th
Had some low-budget trappings but in the end it's a very moving film with an unusual and fascinating perspective.
Rated 01 Aug 2013
82
96th
It didn't look very appealing on paper, and when I started watching it I didn't see much past beautiful imagery until that harrowing scene in the tunnel, when I realized that I really care about these two main characters. This film is much like the character of Enrique - wide-eyed and big-hearted. This attitude the film takes is why over-dramatization, similar to Mexican tele-novellas, works. There surely is no mercy for the main characters and the whole 'American dream'. Best film on this theme
Rated 08 Nov 2010
20
41st
"In El Norte's defense, it does not, unlike those contemporary films, filter its view of an ethnic subculture through the eyes of a white protagonist." - Matt Noller
Rated 05 Jul 2023
82
69th
Well done and structured, even if the leads even as the leads are easy to empathize with and hard to relate to given their simplicity. It certainly makes for an interesting tension throughout the film as they discover and experience new (sometimes good, sometimes terrible) things. The arc of this film is nearly a straight line: poverty is hard everywhere. I do wonder about what seems like an equivocation between Guatemalan-soldiers-kill-you troubles and American-no-one-cares-about-you troubles.

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