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The movie El Norte was produced at the dawn of the United States independent film movement. After its production, two of the founders of the film made what variety called its first epic. The story line of the movie tells the story of a Guatemalan brother and sister, Rosa and Enrique Xuncax. The movie revolves around these two, and it tells a story of how they fled persecution at home and walked through the north the length of Mexico to look for a better place other than home. Throughout their fleeing, they had only one thought in mind, which was the dream of finding a new home in the United States. They two were illegal aliens as they did not have the American citizenship and were basically sneaking into the United States. However, at the time the California economy could not function without individuals like them for the function of providing cheap labor. They people living in California needed this workers to do their manual labor for them as they sat down and relaxed (Ebert, 2010).
The movie tells the story of a brother and sister with an amazing visual beauty. The story has got bold melodrama, and has got anger that is leavened by hope. The producer for this movie focused on telling the various challenges that the immigrants face and how they these challenges normally end up forcing them to make tough choices regarding their lives. In explaining these challenges, the filmmakers tell interesting stories of cash payoffs done at gunpoint. They tell how Nava's parents made their way out of the country taking with them some of the dailies. However, the film never shows that backstage ordeal. The producers choose to bring out the story by not focusing on the grim grays of neo-realism. They instead focus on the palette of Mexico which is filled with color as well as fantasy. An early scene in the movies involves clouds of butterflies. These bring out local legend coupled with magical realism.
'Like water for chocolate' is a film that shows the relationship between food and love. The movie is about love, tradition, passion and food. Throughout the entire film, the producer brings out the presence and influence of magic. This is connected with the metaphor of food. The story line of the film is set in early 20th century Mexico. This is a period when a new life is coming into the world in a time of sorrow. It is a period when a father drops dead of a heart attack, when he gets to find out about the parentage of his child. The story features a young lady known as Tita. She is the last of three daughters who is born to a respected and affluent family. She is lucky enough to inherit a dubious birthright. According to the Mexican tradition, the last-born daughter is not allowed to marry. This is so, so that she can take care for her aging mother. Tita is the daughter who finds herself in this position. She has been groomed for this position by her family ever since she was a small girl. She has spent most of her time working in the kitchen with the housekeeper Nacha. She eventually becomes the family cook (Willingham, 2010).
As Tita grows up, she becomes this young woman who is beautiful in every way. She then falls in love with a handsome local boy by the name Pedro. Elena, Tita's mother, is against the relationship that the two are having. She refuses to allow the two to get married, but instead offers Pedro another alternative. She talks him into taking her eldest daughter, Rosaura's hand in marriage instead. Shockingly, Pedro accepts this offer and Tita is devastated. She sees this as a disloyalty of the love that Pedro shared with her. However, she later learns that Pedro's true intent is to be close to her. As if things were not tough already as they were for her, Tita's mother asks her to prepare the wedding feast. This is the first scene that displays the film's mysticism. It produces the moment in the film for the relationship that exists in the two; sexuality and food. As she is baking the cake, Tita cries into the cake batter. When everybody in the wedding party eats it, they cry for a lost love. Tita sees this and she realizes that she can communicate to Pedro. It is interesting because she can do this by cooking; the very activity which her mother has imprisoned her with. This part of the story brings a new meaning to the cliché 'the way to a man's heart is through his stomach'.
According to history, women have always been portrayed as being inferior to men. In the movie 'Like Water for Chocolate' female characters play the major role in the story. The story was set at the time when the Mexican Revolution was on going. As the political leaders as well as the politcal views changed, so did the roles of the people in the society. At this time, the public opinion of the abilities possessed by women was that they were less than the men. Mama Elena brings about this theme on women inferiority when she forced Tita to not marry Pedro. She shows that women cannot make decisions on their own when she tries to set up her eldest daughter with her younger daughter's boyfriend. Tita on the other hand cannot do anything about this because her opinion will not even matter. This movie has been used to show this element of oppression and the producer used women characters to do so. In a world where the women are trying to be uplifted to be treated as equals to men, this film goes a long way in showing that.
The producer for the movie El Norte used this movie to bring about the element of immigration and the challenges that it has. We are told of the story of a brother and sister who move into Mexico in search of a better life. The producer uses the lady character to show the hardships that women face in their search for a better life. In the end of the movie, the brother, Enrique, is forced to choose between going to Chicago for a better life or stay with his sister Rosa. He opts to go to Chicago instead. He does this despite the knowledge that his sister is sick and needs him.
The sister stood by his side during their hard times when they were both migrating from Mexico but he does not do the same for her. When she is in the hospital and needs him by her side, he abandons her and goes in search of a better life. This movie has used this element to bring out the toughness that women face in the society. Women are normally given a backseat by the men even though they stand by them during their times of turmoil. The movie has portrayed just how much men do not support the women when they need their help most. By doing so, the women are oppressed and they do not get a chance to live their lives to the fullest. The movie also portrayed the difficulties that immigrants face with more emphasis on the women. In the movie, Rosa faces all this kinds of trouble during their immigration. Much as it is too much for her to bear, she puts up with it and stands by her brother in all the hardships. This shows the way women sacrifice too much for their men but it is unfortunate that in the end, they are still treated as minors.
In the 1980s, military repression and civil warfare intensified in both Guatemala and El Salvador, resulting in massacres, forced displacement, and political assassinations. Thousands left Central America to come to America, most of them illegally. Those who entered the U.S. filed for political asylum but despite the reports of murders and disappearances, barely three percent of applicants received asylum. Today, approximately half of Salvadorans and Guatemalans living in the U.S. have less than an eighth grade education and most work long hours in jobs on the low end of the pay scale and their situation makes it nearly impossible to advance or make long term plans.
Gregory Nava's 1983 Indie film El Norte describes the plight of two young Guatemalans, Enrique (David Villalpando) and his sister Rosa (Zaide Silvia Gutierrez) who faces reprisals from the military after participating in a protest meeting and undertake a hazardous journey to "the north" to find a better life. The film is divided into three parts: "Arturo Xuncax", describing the circumstances that caused the family to leave Guatemala "El Coyote", detailing their hazardous journey to reach the U.S., and "El Norte", telling the story of their life in Los Angeles. While El Norte does have a strong political message, the core of the film is the relationship between Enrique and Rosa.
The hardships of the journey are told in graphic detail, especially the last test of crossing the border by crawling on their hands and knees through an abandoned sewer line populated by hordes of rats. Things seem to be bright, however, when they arrive in Los Angeles. He becomes a busboy in an upscale restaurant, she finds work as a maid in Beverly Hills, and both try to learn English in their free time. They soon find, however, that life in the U.S. is not all that it appears and their situation unravels when Enrique is reported to INS officials by a jealous employee. El Norte wears its heart on its sleeve and the film tends toward the melodramatic, but it faithfully mirrors the fear and uncertainty that illegal immigrants face each day and I can forgive its flaws and applaud the loving bond between brother and sister and the strength it produces in their lives.
Revolutions throoughout the history of humankind have established change of traditions as the normal occurrence throughout our history. Revolutions in households can also occur when traditions that are contrary to the desires of one, interfere with the values of another.
In the book "Like Water for Chocolate," a major revolution develops between mother and daughter, Mama Elena and Tita. Like most revolutions, traditions are the major factor in the revolution that happens between these two; Tradition states that the youngest daughter must not marry, but must take care of the mother until she dies. Nevertheless, when a young man decides to ask for Tita's hand in marriage, Mama Elena flat out refuses to hear any more about the subject. She says to Tita on page 10, "If he intends to ask for your hand, tell him not to bother . . ." Then Tita realizes the hopelessness of her situation and from that moment on she swore "to protest her mother's ruling" (11). The revolution continues to build until finally after many years of torment by her mother, Tita leaves the family ranch. Then after awhile, when Mama Elena becomes paralyzed by bandits, Tita feels compelled to return to the ranch and care for her mother. In returning Tita felt that her return humiliated her mother because how cruelly she had treated her daughter in the past (130).
When Tita had made dinner for her mother, Mama Elena brutally rejected her kindness. Tita could not understand why her mother treated her cruelly, "she didn't understand Mama Elena's attitude . . . It was beyond her comprehension that one person, whatever her relationship with another, could reject the kind gesture in such a brutal manner . . ." (130-131). After all that they had gone through, Tita thought at least some things had changed. Of course nothing had changed because Mama Elena saw her daughter as she saw her self many years before. But after her mother's death Tita was enlightened when see discovered her mother's love letters from José, her mother's only true love (137).
As Tita read her mother's letters, she discovered the reason behind her mother's personality, both psychologically and emotionally. "José was the love of her life. She hadn't been allowed to marry him because he had Negro blood in his veins . . . When Mama Elena's parents discovered the love that existed between their daughter and this mulatto, they were horrified and forced her into an immediate marriage with . . . Tita's father." Even though Tita knew the truth about her mother, her guilt for not understanding brought on Mama Elena's ghost. When Tita thought she was pregnant by Pedro, Mama Elena paid her a visit in the kitchen accusing her of blackening her family's reputation by immorality. Yet accurately it was Tita's guilt, since she was not pregnant (173). So the only way Tita was ever going to rid herself of her mother was to stand up to her. Finally toward the end of the book, mother and daughter were finally face-to-face on even ground.
Mama Elena's ghost, Tita's imagination, lashed out at her daughter, "You and Pedro are shameless . . . you behave like a good woman, or a decent one at least!" (199) .Tita, because of having read her mother's diary and love letters finally got peace when she said, "What do you mean, decent? Like you? . . . Or didn't you have an illicit child? . . . I hate you, I've always hated you!" (199) .Tita finally won and triumphed over her domineering mother, "Tita had said the magic words that would make Mama Elena disappear forever" (199). The revolution between mother and daughter was caused when Mama Elena felt guilty at making her daughter observe tradition. Mama Elena must have loved Tita very much, and it is safe to say that Tita's mother was afraid of losing the only other person that she truly loved. But because of her loss of José she did not know how to show true affection. Tita, on the other hand, felt smothered by her overbearing mother. She wanted something more out of life then just taking care of her mother, she needed a different kind of love. Mama Elena and Tita truly loved one another but were not aware of the extent that they loved each other.
As is true in real life, a song that describes reality is entitled "Don't Know What you've got, 'Til It's Gone." If people would just hold on to what they have, then everything will work for them. But most people are not satisfied with their life, so they try to seek something better which usually leads to disaster. If Mama Elena had compromised, and if Tita had married John then both could have enjoyed a longer and more enjoyable life.