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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Mojados - Through the Night
Mojados - Through the Night
Vanguard // Unrated // July 26, 2005
List Price: $19.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Jeff Paramchuk | posted August 11, 2005 | E-mail the Author
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Having moved to the United States from a foreign country in recent years, I've always been a slightly fascinated with the effort that some people will put into smuggling themselves into a country that is so vastly different than their own. Witness the Chinese who are so desperate to leave their home that they ship themselves across the Pacific Ocean to try to land in Vancouver, or the Cubans who are willing to float on rafts loosely made from items found in and around their homes. Their home life must be so poor that they feel that if only they could move to North America things would be better, and they are willing to chance their lives on the journey. My journey involved a job offer, a plane ticket and a passport, while the four men that first time documentary maker Tommy Davis followed had a small backpack, a package of tortillas, a loaf of bread, two gallons of water, and one hell of a desire to head to the North and make some hard earned cash to send back to their families in Mexico.

The four Mexican men are introduced early into this roughly 70 minute feature, and a very brief blurb about them and their reason for wanting to make the deadly trek is stated. Guapo the 20 year old heads to the USA to save money with dreams of opening a store and exporting his handmade furniture to the same people who take the work he would do for granted; Oso, the oldest in the group in his fifties has made the trip before, and uses the cash he earns to further grow his farm in Michoacan; Veijo, the next oldest in the group hikes to try and find work as a carpenter to help his family of two boys and a wife make a better life in Mexico; and finally Tigre, who heads to the US annually to work and dreams of moving north with his wife and attending community college together. Sadly, the introduction is the only depth that we get into why these men are taking the trip, and we don't hear much about them as people for the rest of the documentary's running time.

Davis tries to keep things moving through the feature by narrating the onscreen action in his almost a whisper of a voice, however what the group of men does is self documenting, such as watching them grudgingly scoop water from stagnant pools and tentatively test the flavor of the water before filling their almost constantly empty jugs completely. In the commentary, Davis mentions that he wishes he brought some additional questions with him to ask the men, but he assumed that they'd do plenty of speaking during their journey. He says the men are actually quite silent through the trip, and tend to concentrate on what they are doing, and keeping a lookout for the border patrol and thinking of their families.

Intermixed with the footage of him sneaking through Texas, Davis interjects with footage of him interviewing ranchers and the Border Patrol. He tried to show the compassion that the groups have for the migrants, and instead of showing a well rounded view of illegal immigration, it came off slightly one sided.

The movie ends with a slightly ambiguous montage of news segments from the Southwest, talking about the bodies of multiple illegals that froze to death in the deserts. While it's never said, it's implied that death takes a hold of some of the men we are with, and I really felt this was a cheap way to bring the attention of the viewer to the dangers that these desperate and dedicated men, women and children face each die as they try to make a better life for themselves.

The DVD

How does it look:

Mojados: Through the Night is presented in a full frame aspect ratio, the way it was originally shot. As you could imagine, sneaking into another country requires some far from ideal shooting conditions, so expect to see a lot of grainy night vision shots, and a lot of less than ideal lighting. This does however make the film that much grittier and realistic putting us in the shoes of the group.

How does it Sound:

Mojados contains a single audio option which is more than adequate for the presentation. It's given to us in two channel stereo, with the automatic subtitles for the Spanish in the film. I have no complaints with the audio portion as it was quite well done for this independent feature.

Extras:

A trailer for the award winning documentary is included as well as a directors commentary where Davis goes into some more detail about why he did this and the hardships that they dealt with. Even though there was some silence from time to time, the commentary was a better look into the film, and helped explain some things in a better context.

Also included is roughly 30 minutes of additional footage, which ranged from a friend of Davis talking about the director to multiple scenes of people being caught by the Border Patrol. One set of scenes involved a group which provides clean water to the migrants, and calls itself Humane Borders. This was interesting but the scenes did tend to drag on a little too long, and while some were interesting, some didn't fit well with the film and might have been better left out.

Closing:

I will admit that I was slightly under whelmed when I watched Mojados, I was expecting a lot more interaction with the men who were trying to get into the US, and a slightly more detailed explanation of how they did in fact cross the Rio Grande, this was glossed over very quickly and could have benefit from more detail.

As I mentioned, the film does automatically attract some people to watch it based on the curiosity factor; why would someone do this? Is it really that bad where they are from? The answers never really came to those questions, but from the first time documentary maker Tommy Davis, this was a good effort and is definitely worth a rental.
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