Society of the Snow

January 4, 202480/1006 min
Starring
Agustín Pardella, Esteban Kukuriczka, Francisco Romero
Written by
J.A. Bayona, Bernat Vilaplana, and Jaime Marques, Nicolás Casariego ( screenplay by), Pablo Vierci ( based on the book
Directed by
J.A. Bayona
Run Time
2h 24min
Release Date
January 4th, 2024
Overall Score
Rating Summary

A little over 50 years ago, a plane carrying an Uruguayan rugby team crashed on a glacier in the Andes. The flight was carrying 45 passengers and crew, with some dying during impact, while others succumbed to injuries suffered and the bitter cold. 72 days later, 16 of those passengers would return home, giving one of the most harrowing and incredible stories of survival. Over the years, there have been books and films, including the 1976 Survive! and the 1993 Frank Marshall film Alive, but none of them have prepared you for what Society of the Snow will do to you.

Leaving Montevideo, Uruguay, the Old Christians Club rugby union was supposed to arrive in Santiago, Chile, to play a match against the Old Boys Club, an English rugby team. The pilot was experienced in flying over the Andes, but he was teaching his copilot, who mistakenly thought they were closer to their destination and started to descend. It was noticed too late, and the plane crashed, severing the right wing and splitting the plane in half, with the fuselage sliding down the slope of the glacier at 220 mph, ramming into a snow bank, coming to a sudden stop. After getting their bearings and finding who survived, everyone did their best to figure out the situation and try to find a way to get rescued. Of course, that doesn’t happen for 72 days, and the survivors are put through all kinds of tests, both physically and morally if they want to live.

Telling a story that has been told as often as this one, I wondered how writers J.A. Bayona, Bernat Vilaplana, Jaime Marques, and Nicolás Casariego would interpret Pablo Vierci’s book. When it comes to Alive, that story focused more on the survivors, where Society of the Snow also tells the stories of the ones who died as well. Telling more of the story is not the only way Society of the Snow benefits, as technology has advanced since Alive was filmed, allowing Bayona to shoot extensive footage that allowed the actors to perform against it, whereas Alive had to recreate the Andes. What this gives us as the viewer is a better sense of what the survivors were up against, and for me, elevating the story, as it is incredible that any of them got off that mountain at all.

For me, Society of the Snow is finally a movie version that is worthy of one of the great survival stories in human history. It is brought to life by a great ensemble cast, and cinematography that will take your breath away, all while capturing the treacherous landscapes that the survivors faced. There were often times that I could feel what the survivors felt, which included the cold and the pains they had. One of the negative aspects of the story was the cannibalism that the survivors had to resort to in order to survive. What Alive did was take a ‘less is more’ approach, but with Society,Bayona shows its depiction, and the decisions that were made, including that not everyone was aboard with the idea. Add everything together and you get an emotionally and visceral experience that many who see it will cause them to reflect on what they witness. You also get one of the best movies of the year and one that should be seen on the biggest screen possible, if only for the scope of what these men and women faced together.

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