(director/writer: J.A. Bayona; screenwriters: Bernat Vilaplana, Jaime Marques-Olearraga, Nicolás Casariego, based on the book by Pablo Vierc; cinematographer: Pedro Luque; editors: Jaume Marti, Andrés Gil; music: Michael Giacchino; cast: Enzo Vogrincic (Numa Turcatti), Agustín Pardella (Nando Parrado), Matías Recalt (Roberto Canessa); Runtime: 124; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Belén Atienza, Sandra Hermida, J.A. Bayona; Netflix; 2023-Spain-in Spanish with English subtitles)

“Competently made and worth seeing.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Spanish director J.A. Bayona (“A Monster Calls”/”The Impossible”) does a fine job with this inspirational real-life story from a catastrophic 1972 Andes plane crash from a Uruguay charter flight to Chile. He co-writes it with
Bernat Vilaplana, Jaime Marques-Olearraga, Nicolás Casariego. It’s based on the Uruguayan journalist Pablo Vierci’s 2009 book that offers a faithful account of the tragedy.  It has been frequently written about and in 1993 made into an underwhelming Hollywood film directed by Frank Marshall and starring Ethan Hawke.

The winter charter flight that crashed in the remote area of the Andes in Argentina was carrying a rugby team and their acquaintances from Uruguay to Chile for a match, and had 45 people aboard.

The more accessible Sierra Nevada range in Spain stood in for filming the Andes.

The book is told from the perspectives of the 16 survivors of Flight 571. But the script includes the bold decision to make one of the survivors, the 24-year-old law student Numa Turcatti (Enzo Vogrincic), the story’s principal narrator and moral conscience.

The crash scene is marvelously shot, showing the turbulence and chilling crash.Twelve of the people on board are killed instantly, including all three crew members. Several other survivors were injured. The blind spot of the crash site makes it invisible to rescue planes.

The survivors while listening to a news report on a transistor radio find out that the search is called off after eight days. They remain stuck there for 72 days, until milder spring weather allows two of them, Nando Parrado (Agustín Pardella) and Roberto Canessa (Matías Recalt), to hike to Chile (some 10 days away).

Waiting it out at the crash site is depicted as an awful time, as the survivors bond, run out of food, lose strength, grieve the dead and must endure the cold weather.

Grieving over the death of his sister, Nando is determined to survive. Having no more food, Nando urges his fellow survivors to use the dead bodies packed in ice in the plane’s storage section as a food source. This raises moral questions and a lively debate occurs. Some think it’s a sin, others a crime, and others are repelled by it. The film doesn’t graphically show the cannibalism, but it becomes a large part of the psychological drama they live through.

The survivors are rescued when Nando and Roberto encounter a horseman on their way for help, who alerts the authorities. The traumatized survivors return home as heroes after their miraculous rescue.

The film was overlong and it grew weary at times, but it was competently made and worth seeing.

It played at the Venice Film Festival.

Society of the Snow
 REVIEWED ON 9/17/2023  GRADE: B