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on 3 January 2011
Here is, what to me was an unknown film which I came upon by accident, but which I doubt I will forget.
Although I have been fortunate enough in real life not to have experienced the kind of traumas depicted in this film, I somehow feel like I have. Such is the accomplishment of this outstanding gem. It succeeds in portraying the immense suffering and effort involved in uprooting yourself from even a hellish existence to something unknown, and hopefully better, yet irresistibly beckoning, with an extraordinary measure of control and sincerity - both by writer/director Gregory Nava and its splendid cast.
Although this film dates from 1983 I doubt whether much has changed in the kind of situation it deals with; the film itself has certainly not dated an iota. The misery and tension which the illegal refugees from South American dictatorships looking for a better life in "El Norte" - i.e. the USA must suffer is exquisitely captured here. Whilst this is not intended to be a tear jerker it is hard to resist the poignancy which the two protagonists inevitable evince from the viewer.
The lure of a better life has been the standard bearer of the USA since its founding, and in this film the word "better" assumes a very relative interpretation.
There is really no need to go into details - sufficient to say that this film exquisitely relates the story of what must be the experiences untold thousands immigrants to the USA from South America in a way that really stays with you.
As regards the blu ray edition, this is the sort of film that amply merits the upgrade from unrestored standard DVD. If only for the natural beauty and vibrant colours of the Guatemalan countryside, it is a blu ray of distinction. This is a poetic, dramatic unforgettable film and without any doubt a blu ray to bag.
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At present this obscure but lovely classic is only available on BLU RAY in the States. But therein lies a problem for UK buyers…

The US issue is REGION-A LOCKED - so it WILL NOT PLAY on most UK Blu Ray players unless they're chipped to play ‘all’ regions (which the vast majority aren't). Don’t confuse BLU RAY players that have multi-region capability on the ‘DVD’ front – that won’t help.

Until such time as 1983's “El Norte” is given a Region B release by someone – check your player has the capacity to play REGION A – before you buy the Criterion issue…
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on 15 June 2001
Haunting music follows the tale of a brother and sister from Guatemala, and the repression in their village, up through Mexico, and to the "promised land" of the USA (El Norte). Attitudes change throughout the story, to the village, and to the destination. Above all, the need for the pair to be together because they are all eac other has. Must see.
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on 28 September 2015
Great thanks
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