The film El Norte (The North, Gregory Nava 1983) tells the story of siblings Rosa and Enrique, who leave their Guatemalan village when their parents are killed by the army. Rosa and Enrique make their way north from Guatemala through Mexico, and to the United States. The film portrays the siblings on a journey, during which they hope “to make lots of money and return home.” The film La misma luna (Under the Same Moon, Patricia Riggen 2007) tells the story of Carlitos, a nine-year-old Mexican boy who travels to Los Angeles in search of his mother when his grandmother passes away. Along the way the characters from both films struggle with the loss of cultural identity, strain on family relationships, discrimination, and difficult working circumstances. Both Latino directors use structural elements that follow Joseph Campbell’s outline of the hero’s journey and incorporate magical or dream reality elements to remind the viewer of mythology. By positioning the immigrant as a hero on a “road of trials,” the filmmakers suggest that all immigrants are on their own hero’s journey. These films give a heroic dimension to the many facing these struggles.


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pp. 85-98
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