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Directed by Gregory Cava
USA 1983

 

Brother and sister Enrique and Rosa flee persecution at home in Guatemala and journey north, through Mexico and on to the United States, with the dream of starting a new life. It’s a story that happens every day, but until Gregory Nava’s groundbreaking El Norte (The North), the personal travails of immigrants crossing the border to America had never been shown in the movies with such urgent humanism. A work of social realism imbued with dreamlike imagery, El Norte is a lovingly rendered, heartbreaking story of hope and survival, which critic Roger Ebert called “a Grapes of Wrath for our time.”

Posters

Theatrical Release: October 11th, 1983

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Comparison:

Criterion (2-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

Box Cover

Distribution Criterion Spine # 458 - Region 1 - NTSC Criterion Spine # 458 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
Runtime 2:20:45 2:20:55.095
Video 1.78:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.98 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s
Disc Size: 49,601,312,700 bytes
Feature Size: 34,279,845,888 bytes
Average Bitrate: 32.43 Mbps
One dual-layered
Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

 DVD

Bitrate:

 Blu-ray

Audio English (Dolby Digital 1.0)  LPCM Audio English 768 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit
Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
Subtitles English, None English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

Aspect Ratio:
Aspect Ratio 1.78:1

Edition Details:

• New audio commentary featuring director Greg Nava

Disc 2
• In the Service of the Shadows: The Making of El Norte: a new video program featuring interviews with Nava, producer and cowriter Anna Thomas, actors Zaide Silvia Gutiérrez and David Villalpando, and set designer David Wasco (58:20)
• Wall of Silence, a new short documentary by Nava and Barbara Martinez Jitner, concerning the building of the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border (3:06)
• The Journal of Diego Rodriguez Silva, the 1972 award-winning student film by Nava (30:06)
• Scouting in Chipas -Gallery of location-scouting photographs
• Theatrical trailer
• Liner notes booklet featuring an essay by novelist Héctor Tobar and Roger Ebert's 1983 review of the film


DVD Release Date: January 20th, 2009

Transparent Keep Case

Chapters: 26

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

Aspect Ratio:
Aspect Ratio 1.78:1

Disc Size: 49,601,312,700 bytes
Feature Size: 34,279,845,888 bytes
Average Bitrate: 32.43 Mbps
One dual-layered
Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC

Edition Details:

• New audio commentary featuring director Greg Nava
• In the Service of the Shadows: The Making of El Norte: a new video program featuring interviews with Nava, producer and cowriter Anna Thomas, actors Zaide Silvia Gutiérrez and David Villalpando, and set designer David Wasco (58:20 in HD!)
• Wall of Silence, a new short documentary by Nava and Barbara Martinez Jitner, concerning the building of the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border (3:06 in HD!)
• The Journal of Diego Rodriguez Silva, the 1972 award-winning student film by Nava (30:06 in HD!)
• Scouting in Chipas -Gallery of location-scouting photographs
• Theatrical trailer
• Liner notes booklet featuring an essay by novelist Héctor Tobar and Roger Ebert's 1983 review of the film

Blu-ray  Release Date: January 20th, 2009
Standard
Blu-ray  Case inside cardboard box
Chapters: 26

 

Comments:

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.

NOTE: We've already covered the Criterion Blu-ray HERE but some have requested a look (comparison) with the simultaneously released DVD.

What I find about the SD-DVD is that it doesn't seem to support the wonderful grain structure as well as the Blu-ray. The SD transfer has wiped out a lot of the grain and appears relatively flat in comparison. With almost 5 times the bitrate the 1080P rendering shows improvement in the expected areas. The DVD image in El Norte is slightly less detailed and colors are not as well-established (orange in skin tones) as they are on the dual-layered Blu-ray release. The screen captures below can tell a better story. It amounted to a significant difference on my system with the Blu-ray being tighter with much more depth. Visually I found this film to be quite a treat and the high-definition edition really exemplifies those cinematographic benefits.

Audio-wise the Blu-ray again advances with the LCPM (both are 1.0 channel mono) but my ears weren't capable of noting any prominent differences. 

 

Extras are duplicated with the hi-def release having the featurettes etc. in 1080 resolution and they are on a second disc in the DVD package. As I said in the Blu-ray review: "I really enjoyed the Nava commentary - he talks non-stop explaining many of the motifs that he was attempting and how they related to the onscreen activity. Despite his justified pride, and a bit of ego, I gained a huge amount of appreciation and respect for the film-making process of El Norte and all the, often minute, details that he, and the crew, achieved. In the Service of the Shadows: The Making of El Norte is an hour-long new video program, in HD, featuring interviews with Nava, producer and cowriter Anna Thomas, actors Zaide Silvia Gutiérrez and David Villalpando, and set designer David Wasco. Wall of Silence is a new short documentary, also in HD, by Nava and Barbara Martinez Jitner, concerning the building of the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. The Journal of Diego Rodriguez Silva, is the 1972 award-winning student film by Nava running 30 minutes and in HD. Scouting in Chipas is a gallery of location-scouting photographs."

Both have the 16-page liner notes booklet features an essay by novelist Héctor Tobar and Roger Ebert's 1983 review of the film.

I love this film with my fourth viewing being the best. The much-improved Blu-ray is definitely the best way to go for a home viewing and it's actually $.04 less at the writing of this comparison. The film demands and deserves its audiences and whether you have embraced  Blu-ray or not - you should still see this masterpiece with the keen extras. Highly recommended for the edition with the best format output your system can support. Criterion's El Norte could be one of the many reasons to indulge in this new, superior video/audio format.    

Gary W. Tooze

 



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Extras

 

 


CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Criterion  - Region 1 - NTSC TOP vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


 

Screen Captures

 

Criterion  - Region 1 - NTSC TOP vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


 

Criterion  - Region 1 - NTSC TOP vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


 

Criterion  - Region 1 - NTSC TOP vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


Criterion  - Region 1 - NTSC TOP vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


Criterion  - Region 1 - NTSC TOP vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM
 

 


Criterion  - Region 1 - NTSC TOP vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


Criterion  - Region 1 - NTSC TOP vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

 


DVD Box Cover

Distribution Criterion Spine # 458 - Region 1 - NTSC Criterion Spine # 458 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray




 

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