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Society of the Snow Review: 1972 Andean Plane Crash Survival Struggles

In the recount of the 1972 Andean plane crash that left the passengers of Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 stranded for 72 days, J.A. Bayona‘s “Society of the Snow” stands as a raw portrayal of human endurance and the blurred lines between survival and morality.
Society of the Snow Review: 1972 Andean Plane Crash Survival Struggles

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Opening with Roger Ebert’s cautionary note about the difficulty of telling the Andes survivors’ story, Bayona’s film goes into the harrowing facts of the crash, where most passengers met instant death and the remaining few faced an unimaginable struggle for survival amidst the Andes mountains.

Bayona takes an approach in introducing the characters, addressing the group rather than individual personas.

The narrative, guided by the young Numa Turcatti, captures the rugby team’s excitement before the trip. However, it’s only in the aftermath of the crash that distinct personalities emerge, saying the idea that catastrophe doesn’t change but reveals one’s true nature.

The film’s cinematography, spearheaded by Pedro Luque, vividly re-creates the crash, portraying the mountains as malevolent entities.

The vast, snowy landscapes are awe-inspiring, with a sense of foreboding encapsulating every frame, saying the sentiment that human beings are not meant to survive in such harsh environments.

Bayona’s film refrains from religious undertones. While the survivors in earlier renditions grappled with cannibalism as a quasi-religious act, Society of the Snow takes a more nuanced route.

The initial emergence of a leader in the aftermath gives way to two other young men, Roberto and Nando, attempting to repair the plane’s radio and, when unsuccessful, on a journey towards Chile.

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The film employs on-screen labels for the passing days and offers epitaphs for those who perish, providing a glimpse of the real names of the characters.

However, this only shows the challenge expressed by Ebert in 1993, the elusive nature of explanation in the face of such a tragedy.

The story lies in the primal fascination with survival, a nerve exploration of what it means to endure extreme conditions.

As the narrative unfolds, the survivors are pushed to the brink, addressing the mental toughness required for survival.

This tells the theme found in other survival tales, from POW memoirs to mountaineering sagas like Touching the Void, where the decision to survive becomes a moment of mental fortitude.

Bayona’s film, without stating these themes, allows the philosophical and moral questions surrounding survival to breathe.

The endurance of characters like Roberto and Nando, who navigate the treacherous landscape in a desperate bid for help, becomes a testament to unbroken psychological strength amid unimaginable circumstances.

Released on Netflix, Society of the Snow has garnered praise for its storytelling and moving performances.

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Viewers have lauded the film for its portrayal of the true story, addressing faith, the human spirit, and the bonds of friendship in crisis.

The film’s focus on the challenges faced by the survivors sets it apart from previous adaptations, resonating strongly with audiences.

In comparing Bayona’s film with earlier renditions like Frank Marshall’s “Alive,” the Spanish director takes a grittier and more authentic approach.

Bayona’s cast, Uruguayan, lends an air of authenticity to the narrative, steering clear of Hollywoodized sentimentality.

The film’s dedication to showcasing the physical and psychological toll of the survivors’ journey sets it apart from the more polished Hollywood approach seen in “Alive.”

Viewers praise its impact, citing the film’s stunning direction, gorgeous cinematography, and touching performances.

The movie’s ability to convey the true story of the 1972 plane crash, focusing on endurance, faith, and the bonding of friendship in crisis, has resonated deeply with audiences.

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