A young man stranded in a Mexican border town recounts the vivid and tragic story of his older brother who crossed the border with a group of illegal immigrants into the U.S. only to wander for days in the disorienting wilderness – each night piling together for warmth and protection, and each morning, fewer and fewer survivors emerging from the huddled mass – until everyone eventually perished in the harsh and unforgiving desert. Faced with a stringent border policy that reinforces patrol of the traditionally urban, highly populated crossing areas of San Antonio and San Diego, desperate undocumented aliens have been undertaking increasingly dangerous – and often fatal – attempts to cross through rural, largely uninhabited areas and vast, inhospitable deserts in search of economic opportunity. Although the first half of the film is encumbered with overly repetitive, extended sequences of the ubiquitous, formidable border, the latter part of the film, punctuated by a deeply moving expression of gratitude to the film crew by a group of destitute, stranded immigrants hoping to send word of their plight to their families after being abandoned by their paid smugglers, illustrates the filmmaker’s profound affection and concern for these marginalized, and often dehumanized, people. In the end, Akerman’s visually rigorous, alienated, and uncompromising image of arid and barren landscapes in the film illustrates, not a geographic location exploited for illusory dreams of a better life, but a senseless and unforgiving trail of human desolation.
© Acquarello 2002. All rights reserved.