Written by Caballero Oscuro
While you may have heard the infamous story of the plane crash survivors who were forced into cannibalism to survive, or even saw the big-screen dramatization (1993’s Alive), this riveting new documentary uses the actual survivors to recount the tale in their own words for the first time. Their first-hand account of the days following the crash drives home the desperation of their tragic situation and ultimately delivers a life-affirming message.
On October 13th, 1972, a young rugby team from Uruguay boarded a flight for a game in Chile, but vanished into inclement weather conditions over the Andes. Seventy-two days later, 16 of the 45 passengers were rescued. What happened in those desperate days affected the survivors for the rest of their lives, but as evidenced by their deeply personal interviews, the experience didn’t define them. Miraculously, over 35 years later, all of the survivors featured appear to be well-adjusted, content, and extremely grateful men who have gone on to lead stable and normal lives as husbands and fathers.
The film is a mix of interviews, archival footage and pictures, as well as new reenactments. In my opinion, the reenactments added nothing to the film as the mental images conveyed via the interviews were exceedingly powerful on their own. They seemed to act as a distraction, pulling me out of the film’s flow every time new footage was used and reminding me that they were purely manufactured images rather than the real deal. Conversely, the archival footage and pictures are harrowing, especially those taken near the end of their ordeal as their skeletal, ungroomed forms appeared to be more spectral than physical. Setting all images aside, the true stars of the film are the current-day survivors, aging men who have had a lifetime to reflect on their shared experience. They’re not only informative; they’re eloquent, lyrical, and completely unguarded as they describe the details of their ordeal as well as the impact of the experience on their lives.
Stranded opens in NY, LA and San Francisco on November 7th before rolling out to additional cities in the coming weeks. For more information about the film and a complete list of locations and dates, visit Zeitgeist Films.