In
El Norte (1983), the first scene depicts a man who is bribed to sell out his
coworkers who are trying to escape the Guatemalan village, San Pedro. Next, we
see Arturo telling his son that peasants are only good for their strong arms in
the eyes of the rich. The audience soon learns of the men who were trying to
escape and why the man was bribed; Arturo has been trying to form a labor
union, and at night, Arturo and his men are brutally beaten and murdered.
Arturo’s severed head is found hanging from a tree. When Enrique, Arturo’s son,
is forced to escape because of the ongoing violent attacks, he is also attacked
but manages to kill his attacker and escape with his sister, Rosa. The decide
to go North. This scene reminds me of the struggles of the Mexican people
trying to cross the American border and how not all of them make it out alive.
They are all looking to escape their current lives. Enrique and Rosa travel to
Mexico and struggle to make it through. They try to pass as native mexicans and
incorporate the mexican word for “fuck” because that is how they were told to
act like mexicans. They follow a coyote to go to the US border when they are
almost exposed for not being true mexicans. When the teens finally get to the
border, they have to crawl through a sewer that is filled with rats. Rosa is
bit by the rats. The two get to the states and are face with the challenges of
finding work and being accepted in society. They find their delusion of America
was nowhere near accurate or anything like what they saw on TV. Soon Rosa dies
because of the rat bites, and Enrique is forced to find daily work with the
other immigrants. This movie made me feel bad for the people living in the
Guatemalan village because they cannot find solace in their village or Mexico
or in the states. Overall, the movie was okay for being thirty years old. Real
problems of poverty and violence are facing these communities and they need
help.”