El Norte
(The North)
El Norte (1983)
• Gregory Nava, director
and writer.
• Anna Thomas,
producer and Nava’s
• Nominated for Best
Screen Play.
• In 1995, El Norte
became part of the film
list of the Library of
Part I:
“Arturo Xuncan”
•Takes Place in Guatemala.
•Nava superficially touched upon
the civil war in Guatemala.
•The indigenous people are trying
to take back their lands from the
hands of the rich.
•Arturo, father of the
protagonists, is captured and
•Enrique and Rosa leave to avoid
•Rosa is forced to leave her
culture behind to find a new one
in the U.S.
Part II:
El Coyote
•Takes place in Mexico specifically
in Tijuana.
•Enrique and Rosa are taken
advantage of by two coyotes: Carlos
and Raimundo.
•Once caught by immigration, which
is portrayed as incompetent the
protagonists are sent back to
Tijuana instead of Guatemala.
•We also see the interactions
between Mexicans and other
Hispanics. Indians have no respect
in either culture.
•In their second attempt to cross the
border, they are attacked by rats.
•The scene ends by Rosa and
Enrique over looking San Diego
Part III:
The North
•Most of the film’s time is in the
U.S. in Los Angeles, CA
•The scene opens with Rosa and
Enrique been “sold” to Don
Monte, who will find them jobs
and collect part of their pay for
the rent.
•Rosa ends working cleaning
•Enrique finds a job working in a
reputable restaurant, where he is
promoted to waiters’ assistant.
•Rosa contracts typhus.
•Either in Guatemala or U.S. the
protagonists still found
El Norte: Points of Views
• El Norte is not a direct political film. It falls in the
category of socially reflective film.
• However, it does criticize the U.S. way of
regulating immigration. Jorge: “The migra does
not show up just because their balls itch.”
• The film appeals to the audience’s emotions by
focusing on the struggle of the two protagonists.
Critics believe that Nava used their stories as
away to create tolerance towards illegal
immigrants. So, they can be allowed to stay in
the U.S.
El Norte: Points of Views
• On the other hand,
illegal immigrants in
the U.S. are able to
identify with the
protagonists and their
struggles. It creates
awareness of their
situation in a foreign
country. It gives
immigrants a voice.
El Norte
• Gregory Nava failed in
giving more
explanation of the
Guatemalan conflict
during the 1970s1980s.
• For many immigrants
the U.S. provides them
with an escapade for
their oppression.
• Don Monte: “We are
talking about survival.”
El Norte
• Rosa in her death bed tells Enrique: “We are
not free…Yes life is difficult here…In our land,
we have no home. They want to kill us. There is
no home for us there. In Mexico there is only
poverty. We cannot make a home there either.
And here in the north, we are not accepted.”
– She summarizes what many Guatemalans went
through the 1970s-1980s.
– Some say that El Norte is an attempt to create a
modern version of the Mayan myth of the twin
brothers, who had to travel to the underworld, and
Homer’s Odyssey.
• Gregory Nava accomplished to created a
film for immigrants. Also, provide the
American audience with an insight to the
struggles of illegal immigrants. Even
though, they have broken the law and
should be held responsible for it, their
actions are a cry for help.