el norte

April 27, 2012

I thought there were quite a few parallels between this film and Journey of Hope.  That could be a place for you to start discussing your reaction to El Norte and how strong you think its message is.



  1. Yes, i agree that there are parallels between the two films. In both we are exposed to the struggle of someone trying to enter a country illegally, this being something none of us can really grasp. We find in both films that the people who are facing the journey are willing to go because they feel that “the grass is always greener” wherever they are going. As they go through there travel the find that it is not as easy as they thought and/or that once they got there they didn’t find everything they had been promised or expected. In El Norte, the main reason for going was monetary. Enrique had been told that there was plenty of money in America, however he had not been told that he would need to spend money in order to merely survive. Another issue addressed in both films is leaving family in order to achieve what you desire. We see this as Enrique is faced with the decision to leave his sister in order to make more money. While he knows that family is important, he does begin to realize that he must do what he needs to in order to survive.

  2. Looking back at “Journey of Hope,” I can definitely see some parallels between the films. In both, the characters leave everything they know in hopes of a better life. In both, we see the struggles of trying to illegally enter a country. I think the biggest difference is the reasons for leaving. In “Journey of Hope,” they left in hopes of a better life, but they willingly gave up everything…and they were running to save their lives. IN “El Norte,” The siblings had lost everything, and everyday they stayed in their village they risked death. Money was a major factor in why they decided to go north, and it was a bit distressing to watch the struggle and realize that all the money they earned would go into just surviving. It was also frustrating to watch everything they worked so hard for being taken from them in the end. Though Enrique worked really hard to protect Rosa and to earn his promotion at his job, he lost both. And Rosa went north in search of a better life; Rosa made friends and found a decent job, only to die from typhus she contracted when bitten by the rats in the abandoned sewer. I thought this film was interesting and I’m glad we saw it and had “Journey of Hope” to compare it to.

  3. I agree that there are similarities in both Journey of Hope and El Norte. One of the biggest factors for both families was the counting on enough money to get them to where they needed to go. In Journey of Hope, the main character leaves his other children behind and takes off with his wife and son in hopes of a better life. Now, the characters run into money problems throughout the entire movie. For instance, the characters cannot afford to get passports, nor can they afford to bring their entire family along (even after selling off the crop lands to a neighbor). In El Norte, the siblings take off with what little money their godmother can supply. It’s evident in the first trip to try and get across the border that they don’t have much. The thief, who tricked them into believing that he would take them across the border, becomes angry after he finds out that they only have $20.00 in pocket. Since the siblings don’t have enough money to buy a passport, they climb through sewage drains in order to cross into the U.S. Also, another similarity lies in the fact that the main characters take off and leave their homelands behind in hopes that they find better circumstances elsewhere. In diasporic film, it’s obvious that his is a main goal for most characters. I really thought the ending to El Norte spoke volumes about the sort of sacrifices immigrants must make due to hardships they have had to endure in their past. It was sad to see Rosa die of something she had no control over (much like her status as an illegal immigrant) and it was even harder to watch as Enrique tried to continue on without her.

  4. After watching this film I was reminded of journey of hope because throughout the movie you keep thinking and hoping things are getting better. It shows how so many people are struggling for things that I take for granted. The amount of violence in this movie was more than in Journey of hope and I think the sister dying in the end was sort of like Journey of Hope. The ending showed that even though these families gave everything up in search for a better life there were worse off or stuck. I felt hope when Enrique got that job offer but the ending of him staying by his sister while she died and then having to return to a world that only viewed laborers as arms not people showed what immigrants are often dehumanized which is a theme in all of the movies we watched- Delaney McDermott

  5. This movie was a lot like Journey of Hope, in that it showed the escape of immigrants into another country and the trials that go along with it. It is also similar in their endings, where someone innocent dies and the male figure is forced to live on withouth them. A difference is that in Journey of Hope, we did not get the sense that they had to leave like the characters in El Norte. In El Norte they were escaping their country to save their lives and just like Hadar, they had heard stories and seen fabulous images of another place. They both were caught up in the possibility of financial success but once they get to their destination, Hadar is locked up and sent back home, while the characters in El Norte realized that the idea they had in their head about what it would be like in America was not realistic. Once Enrique got a taste of the money and recognition he had gotten in America, it seems that it began to get to his head and he developed a greed and ego that pushed him to even leave his sick sister behind. In the end he did stay but was left with nothing, working just as hard as he would have at home. It was striking to see the last scene when he was digging and one of the foreman was watching over him, just like the beginning scene when the workers were collecting berries and the oversear with the gun was watching over them.This movie was a good representation of the ideal of the American dream and the negative results that kind of thinking can bring on.

  6. I’ll agree that they were similar in a lot of ways. Both of these films, unlike the others we’ve seen in class, depicted the full journey from the homeland to the destination as well as the sacrifices that must be made in order to make it there. We see the characters in both films take many risks in order to be transported safely across the border. We see them tricked, lied to and exploited. One driving factor that pushes them to leave everything behind is that they think they’ll have a much better life with more money and possessions once they make it to the other side (Granted Enrique and Rosa fled for their lives). Both end in the tragic death of an innocent character. I thought that the ending of Journey of Hope made you think more about immigration laws and what a country goes through in order to keep outsiders out. Whereas I figured El Nortes message was about the falsity of ‘The American Dream’ The similar shots of the male character in a labor line, with a foreman present to keep them in check acted as a framing device for the film.

  7. Journey of Hope did cross my mind once or twice during the film, and I can definitely see some parallels. Both end in tragedy and give the lasting impression that others will continue to go through these unnecessary hardships. However, there are enough difference between the two that I feel El Norte was a more “complete” movie experience – for one thing, the beginning of the film showed clear motivation for the siblings in survival and sticking together. They wanted to get as far away from oppression as possible, so their journey felt more believable than Journey of Hope, which does little to explain what sparked the characters’ goals. The journey in El Norte also took roughly half the film and was decidedly successful in that they managed to amalgamate into another culture (at least for a time). There was always the threat of the U.S. Immigration Department, reminiscent of Dirty Pretty Things. This first-world issue gets Enrique enticed with money and a chance at citizenship, but in the end he becomes another unmarked illegal immigrant – something that is reflected in the haunting final image of his father’s decapitated head hanging against an implied sunset. It can be gathered that his hanging mouth belies and expression of shock as he looks on at what has become of the family, one that he expected “great things” in life.

  8. I agree that there are numerous parallels between El Norte and Journey of Hope. Both films detail the respective journeys of immigrants seeking to improve their status in a new country. Also, barriers like language and difficulties travelling were seemingly impossible to surmount. However, I think there’s one key difference between the two films, and that’s how El Norte felf like more of a saga, while Journey of Hope served as a one-shot glimpse into the life of Haydar’s family.

    Much of this discrepancy comes from how El Norte was divided into parts I, II and III. This choice in editing obstructs the flow of some films, but serves others well. El Norte juggles with some really heavy content (immigration, racism, political instability), so I appreciated the break in the action. It signified that the section before was relevant, but now serves as a prologue for what’s going to happen now.

  9. I definitely saw parallels between this movie and Journey of Hope. Both movies dealt with families trying to move on to a better life, or faced dire consequences of staying in their own homes. I was shocked that the father died so early on in El Norte, and then the mother and most of the women in the village were taken away. I was expecting Enrique to die not long after, and that Rosa was going to be the main character of the film and the story would follow her.
    Like in Journey of Hope, I kept expecting the people that Enrique and Rosa asked for help to betray them or turn them over to police or worse, but it often didn’t happen. It seemed the only time they were betrayed was by the man who offered to take them across the border, and then attempted to rob them. I especially kept expecting Jaime to double-cross them, especially when he kept badgering Enrique to take the job in Chicago. It felt like he was trying to separate the siblings, and I was glad when Enrique didn’t take the job. Still, it was only after things started to go downhill that I realized that Jamie hadn’t been trying to trick them (or maybe he had) but that Enrique should’ve taken the job in Chicago so he could’ve gotten a green card.
    After the rat attack in the tunnels, I was surprised that they both came out alive and that the rat bites hadn’t left any lasting effects, but my fears were confirmed when Rosa became sick. After that, I knew she probably wouldn’t survive to live to see the end of the movie. This was quite similar to Journey of Hope where it was the innocent, hopeful one that suffered the ultimate sacrifice in order for true freedom that could only be achieved in death.

  10. El Norte is very devastating just as Journey To Hope was as well. I can definitely see the parallels. I’m sure it must be overwhelming when leaving your birth country and venturing to a world completely different like the United States. The coyote who was trying to steal Enrique and Rosa’s money is comparable to the “coyote” of Italy who stole Haydar’s money as well. The language barriers seem to always be an issue as well. I think I felt a lot worse for Enrique, seeing as how he had his parents taken from him at the very beginning of the film. Even though his family wanted to journey to America because even the poor had toilets and cars, Enrique wouldn’t have been happy staying in Guatamala without his family. Haydar had made the decision that he just wanted to go.

  11. I have to mention that, although I thought the cinematography and the story itself was very worthwhile, I could not get past some of the bad acting.

    I think it’s fitting that this class has come full circle, starting and ending with a story of illegal immigration and exploitation. As other people have noted, the films are quite similar. Both films ended with the death of a completely innocent character, one that we had grown close to during the film. And although both families left their country with the hope that things would be better elsewhere, I think Rosa and Enrique had stronger reasons for doing so.

    With both films, we are left with a sense of “Now what?” Although there were many funny parts during the two films, they both end on a depressing note, with all of the laughter gone.

  12. El Norte is definitely in the same vein of Journey to Hope. A few examples: Both have families with a dream to escape to greener pastures, both end in sorrow, both have a dangerous trek to the ‘promised land’, and both feature villains who prey on the vulnerable travelers. It was sad to watch El Norte because I was expecting it to unfold the way that it did. I had a feeling Rosa would die and that Enrique would be left in the world alone.
    While watching the film early on I wondered if giving them hope of a better life in the north was a bad thing. In the end I figured it was bad for them because it was painted as an easy life to live-which is very untrue for immigrants who don’t have green cards. Even those born in ‘The North’ struggle to live the American Dream, so this story was sad to watch all the way around.
    The rat attack scene was too much for me to handle but I figured it had to be significant since it lasted so long. I was surprised that Enrique survived it-then again he might have died later from those injuries-we don’t know. I want to believe that if the film would’ve followed him through life, we would have seen Enrique becoming a success-getting a good job, getting his papers and living well. Or at least that is how I plan to imagine his future, since he lost so much already-it simply isn’t fair.

  13. Although I had arrived 25 minutes into the film, I feel as though I was able to grasp the main intentions of the film. I was taken aback by the intimacy that the brother and sister shared, however, i understand why they were portrayed that way after learning that their other family members were murdered. As soon as they had to crawl into the sewer i knew something bad was going to happen. I thought they were going to drown once I saw the rats fleeing from another tunnel, but after the rats were crawling on them, I suspected that someone was going to get a horrible disease and die from it (I was right). I was able to catch many parallels from Journey of Hope to El Norte such as the loss of family (obvious), the naivete of the travelers, and also the greediness of humans.

    The brother and sister were naive in trusting the initial coyote who tried robbing them. to trust a complete stranger that much was very strange to me. This was very similar in the way the family trusted the men to get them through the mountains safely. I also noticed that greed was a driving factor in both movies. Greed drove the evil men to take more money and advantage of the family in Journey to Hope and greed also drove the brother to put his freedom and chance at a green card before his family loyalty. While he came to his senses at the end, ultimately it was too late.

  14. I think that both films can be paralleled to each other. Both have families that dream of a better life in another country. Both fathers in the films think that there can be more to life than working hard manual labor. I think that it’s interesting to see two different cultures go blindly into the same setting. Both of them want to have the better life with money and cars that they dream of, but have no idea what awaits them. Neither of the families had solid plans for when they arrive in the other country and they were both aware that they would be living as illegal immigrants. The films also had the death of younger family members to show how harsh conditions getting into another country. Both deaths were done because of the journey, even if one took longer than another. I think that both films can be seen as strong immigration films to show that the dream of a better life may only be a dream and not a reality.

  15. I noticed the parallels between the two films, Journey of Hope and El Norte. The characters in both films decided to leave there homes in hopes of finding a better life in another country. They had no idea what they were getting into either, both had to undergo a rough and dangerous travel to their desired locations, illegally, which in turn let to the character’s deaths. In El Norte, the rat bites in the tunnel, and in Journey of Hope, the freezing climate ended the young boys life. Not to mention, when they get their, its nothing like what they expected.

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