February 26, 2024

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“Snow Society” review: Stranded and Faithful

“Snow Society” review: Stranded and Faithful

Filmmakers love survival stories, but there are aspects of the so-called “Miracle in the Andes” that pose particular difficulties for any film, not least because, half a century later, the most famous turn events took will be known to many. everyone. Most viewers enter

On October 13, 1972, a plane from Uruguay bound for Santiago, Chile, carrying 45 people, including a rugby team known as the Old Christians, crashed in the Andes. By the time of the rescue operation 10 weeks later, 16 people had survived. They did this through a combination of resourcefulness, endurance, faith, and the famous decision – in a snowy mountain environment with no food – to eat the dead. Roberto Canessa, a survivor who became a prominent pediatric cardiologist and long-running 1994 presidential candidate in Uruguay, National Geographic said “Man-eating” is a better word to describe what happened than “cannibalism,” which might mean killing people for consumption.

Blending footage of the Andes with locations in Spain's Sierra Nevada, the Spanish-language film “Snow Community,” directed by J.A. Bayona (“The Orphanage”), has a realism missing from 1993's “Alive,” with The largely American cast is led by Ethan Hawke, one of the pre-“Reality Bites” stars, sporting magazine-ready hair. But “Snow Society,” based on the book by Pablo Versi, lacks the immediacy that comes from seeing real survivors, a spectacle provided by the documentary “Stranded: I Came From a Plane That Crashed in the Mountains” (2008).

For a veteran like Bayona, hitting is the easy part. The prediction is relentless and redundant. “This may be our last trip together,” Pancho Delgado (Valentino Alonso), in early Montevideo scenes, says to Noma Torcati (Enzo Vugrincic), a passenger who narrates the film (and whose fate the film reserves for one of his cheap tricks). ). In flight, a newspaper headline alerts viewers to a boat sinking off the coast of Montevideo. Young people discuss how dangerous it is to fly through the Andes due to the strong drag created by the warm winds from Argentina and the cold mountain air.

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The plane accident is frighteningly profound. Snow, debris and wind swirl across the open fuselage. Rows of seats collapse like an accordion, affecting some passengers. The soundtrack is a buzz of poppy metal. After the wreckage stops, Bayona films the opening moments in grainy close-ups, as the characters struggle to piece together what has just happened and the geometry of where they are.

The long run proves more difficult from a dramatic standpoint. “The problem is that no film can capture the enormity of the experience,” Roger Ebert said “Alive” books 31 years ago, and this is still true today. Cinema does photography and sound well, but it is less effective in depicting hunger, cold, and duration, at least when duration is measured in days and weeks.

Then there's the matter of how graphic this movie needs to get; In this respect, “Snow Society,” despite at least one ribcage clearly torn to the bone, remains timid. Neither version of this story depicts the survivors' decision to eat human flesh as rash or negligently caused. This time, once that choice is made, three men initially slaughter out of sight of others. But when snow falls on the group and kills some of them, eating meat without names and faces suddenly becomes impossible, Noma says in voiceover. Bayona then shows Roberto (Mathias Reckalt) carving up apparently unidentified flesh, but tactfully leaving out of frame anything recognizable about the body.

The material is fundamentally engaging, and parts of it are hard to resist, including the first sighting of another person by Nando Parrado (Agustín Bardella) and Roberto after the two spend days climbing their way toward civilization. But “Snow Society” is a perverse film that is difficult to watch the way most people do — on Netflix, in the comfort of their own home, with a refrigerator nearby.

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Snow Association
Rated R. Terror and Isolation; Anthropophagy. In Spanish, with subtitles. Show duration: 2 hours and 24 minutes. Watch on Netflix.