Newest Review: ... truly makes you glad to be alive. ***Extras*** Miracle Of The Andes Documentary I rarely watch extras on DVDs, as they just don't i... more
Would you eat your friends?
Member Name: salem_witch
Advantages: A remarkable true story of survival.
Disadvantages: Two hours can't do it full justice. It's very upsetting in places.
Imagine this: you have been in a plane crash and you are now stranded in the middle of nowhere, you've run out of food and there is no hope of being rescued. There are already people dead from the crash and your only hope is to eat the flesh of the people that used to be your friends. So could you do it? I don't think any of us can really answer that until we have been in that situation ourselves. And I really hope no one has to...
So what is this film about then? Obviously you have worked out from the title that it is based on a true story so many of you may have already heard about it. It really is a gripping story about the survival of passengers who find themselves trapped in the vast mountain range of the Andes. They show true spirit and courage when they are faced with many difficulties including the crash itself, starvation and an avalanche.
The film opens on Friday the 13th October 1972 and the Uruguayan rugby are flying across the Andes to Chile for a game. The journey seems to be going well and the team are being jovial and a few messing about. Then all of a sudden the weather makes a turn for the worse and the flight becomes a bit bumpy. The pilots don't seem to be overly concerned and they put the seatbelt signs on. They then hit an air pocket and then the plane makes a nosedive. The mountains seem to be rather close and the pilots try the best they can to get the plane as high as they can. However, they don't succeed. The wing and the tail of the plane clip a mountain and some passengers are sucked out of the plane. The plane inevitably crashes claiming some of their lives. The crash scene is very impressive considering it was made in 1993. I wasn't surprised to find the scene had been nominated for Best Action Sequence in MTVs movie awards.
After the impact the survivors quickly try and assess who is hurt. Several of them assist the injured. Antonio, the captain of the rugby team, takes lead and tries to organise everyone. Meanwhile Canessa and Zerbino, both medical students, assist those who need help. Not everyone is this calm and collected though. Several survivors don't take it so well and one announces that they are all 'screwed'.
It's becoming clear that they won't get rescued that day, as the night is drawing in and its starting to get cold. Antonio takes charge of filling up the hole at the rear of the plane so they don't freeze to death. Carlitos snaps when women is in agony and is claiming that she is dying. Tells her to be quiet, something he later regrets when she dies. All these mixed emotions I thought were portrayed very well. You can always say if you were in a situation how you'd react but you can. Cannesa starts off very calm and eventually he does snap at someone.
The trauma of the crash and the thought of being left in the cold is clearly affecting them in different ways. Even though watching it you realise what is going to happen it still makes gripping viewing. It's done in a tasteful way as well. Its not shoved in your face and there are only a few shots where you actually see them eating the flesh. So for those of you with weak stomachs it should be bearable to watch. They focus more on their faces and reactions of it. You see they are going through disgust but at the same time they know they have to do it to survive.
One of the survivors (Nando) was a technical advisor so this explains why it was so moving. You can imagine the actors taking it more seriously if he was on set. I didn't realise this whilst I was watching the film but it is clear that the actors are taking it very seriously and are really trying to capture how it was for the real survivors.
In the first few days Antonio is very optimistic and keeps spirits high. The radio on the plane is dead and the batteries are kept at the tail of the plane, which is now at the top of the mountain. Antonio still thinks that they'll find them without the radio. On the third day a plane is heard going above them. Understandably they are all excited even though it's not clear if they have been spotted or not.
Nando, played by Ethan Hawke, sustained a head injury in the crash and has been unconscious. His mother was killed on impact and his sister, Susana isn't faring well. The first few days he looks like he isn't going to make it. However, he wakes up later becomes a major part in the groups survival. When he realises that his sister is dying he says to Canessa that once she has gone he'll climb out of the mountains back to his father. I was astounded at his spirit. For someone who has lost his mother and about to lose his sister he is very strong willed. As the days go by he becomes more determined that they will make it and he spurs on others.
They manage to get the radio to work and they hear over it that the planes haven't actually spotted them. It's only when they hear that the search has been called off they realise they have to save themselves. When they crashed the only food they had was chocolate and rations are running low. Some are becoming weak and disheartened. Nando is the first to suggest that they need to eat and this is when they actually discuss whether they should eat the flesh of those who have died. It is clear from watching the film that they do have one choice: Eat or die.
All the acting in Alive is superb. Other than Ethan Hawke, none of the actors are well known. Hawke portrays Nando very well and his remarkable enthusiasm to go on living. Josh Hamilton, who plays the part of Roberto Canessa, is also excellent. Canessa goes through several mixed emotions and this is shown very well. He seems hopeful at the beginning but as the days go passed he becomes doubtful that they will make it out the mountains alive. His attitude is 'either we're saved or dead'. All the other actors are very good and it must have been horrendous acting in similar conditions as those of the real survivors.
Although it's a very tragic story and serious in parts there are still bits of humour in the film. Jokes are made throughout the film. One person says he'll pay if someone else went for the pizza. After the heated debate over the consumption of the flesh Antonio gives his permission for them to eat him if he dies. He was against it at the time and when he actually thinks about it and says this it causes the rest of them to laugh.
As I mentioned earlier they went through all the emotions that you can think of. Carlitos suffered from guilt at his outburst when the women in agony died. The mechanic of the plane appeared to be mad. This could have been due to a hit on the head or perhaps the trauma of the crash itself. There was disgust at the thought of eating the flesh. Some refused to at first. The married couple refused to at first, as they were troubled with it not being the right thing to do. You can understand this, as it must have been a real dilemma. Then of course some of them gave up hope and lost the will to carry on. Those that were more optimistic kept these people going. I was really surprised at how positive some of them were. After 61 days I thought it was remarkable how strong willed Nando was and still wanted to climb the mountains.
On watching the film you can't fully imagine the hell they went through. Those that survived to the end were there for 72 days. The film is only 2 hours long so you don't get to fully appreciate what they went through. It would have been impossible for them to fit everything that happened in though. Having said that the film does show how brave they were. The film truly makes you glad to be alive.
Miracle Of The Andes Documentary
I rarely watch extras on DVDs, as they just don't interest me normally. However, watching the film I was fascinated. When I realised there was a documentary about it I knew I'd be interested. It starts of with Nando Parrado talking about how the remaining survivors have remained close friends. This isn't all that surprising after what they have been through. Amongst other things he discusses how eating human flesh had effected him and the other survivors in different ways. Several of the survivors speak of their experience and a family member also speaks of their fears when they were missing. Inevitably the subject of cannibalism is discussed and how the world portrayed them.
Frank Marshall, the director, talks about how the story fascinated him and how they filmed in similar conditions. During the documentary several interesting facts come up that you don't realise with watching the film alone. The sheer enormity of how long they actually survived on so little only sinks in. One thing I was surprised was how young they were. Nando was 19 and Carlitos was the youngest at 17.
Available at Amazon for £4.97
Summary: A remarkable true story of survival.