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ERIC Number: EJ769178
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007
Pages: 10
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 17
ISSN: ISSN-0094-5366
"El Norte," Deracination and Circularity: An Epic Gone Awry
Brakel, Arthur
Bilingual Review, v28 n2 p166-175 May-Aug 2004-2007
Early journalistic reviews (e.g., Gold, Ebert, and Kael) of "El Norte" (1983), Gregory Nava's first major film, identify it as an epic. In "El Norte" the siblings Enrique and Rosa, two Guatemalan Amerindians, leave their native village on a quest to what for them is the mythical land in the North. Although "El Norte" corresponds to the general scheme of the migratory epic, in which characters leave their native land, endure perils, and finally reach their goal, the author argues that this film's structure and, more importantly, its theme and message derive more specifically and extensively, albeit inversely, from an epic in which the protagonist's voyage is spiritual rather than geographical and which plumbs, if not all mankind's fate, at least that of Christendom--Dante Alighieri's "Divine Comedy." That is, he maintains that "El Norte" is an epic of modernity in which economic opportunity and political freedom take the place of the union with God that Dante achieved. It is also different from the "Divine Comedy" insofar as it distorts Dante's ascendance from the depths of hell into paradise. In "El Norte" the protagonists leave a would-be paradise turned infernal only to find themselves in a similarly hellish situation at the end of their quest. This film is an epic gone tragically awry: in the course of the plot, rather than achieve their desired prosperity and new identities, the sibling protagonists Rosa and Enrique lose their authenticity, i.e., their identities as Central American Indians, descendants of the Mayans. (Contains 12 notes.)
Bilingual Review Press. Arizona State University, P.O. Box 875303, Tempe, AZ 85287-5303. Tel: 800-965-2280; Tel: 408-965-3867; Fax: 480-965-8309; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Guatemala; Mexico