Alive, based on the book by Piers Paul Read
This is an incredible feature, based on the real, terrifying story of survivors of a plane crash that had to face a gruesome two months of freezing cold, avalanches, lack of food and the perspective of dying – as all but sixteen of them did- on top of the Andes Mountains.
It is also an incredible narrative about leadership, resilience, bravery, skills, determination, grit, creativity, self- esteem, humanity, kindness, extraordinary strength.
Evidently, not everyone coped with Adversity and Trauma in the same manner, but some of the leaders in the group managed to resist and save the others through the power of their example, their outstanding leadership skills and their modesty and spirit of self-sacrifice
Nando Parrado played by a young, wonderful Ethan Hawke, is the Ultimate Hero, an Ubermensch, the Superman of this feature, who has the greatest contribution to the saving of the other fifteen members of his group that have escaped this horrifying, hellish experience.
It all happened in 1972, as a rugby team from Uruguay flies over the mountains to play a game in Chile, when the plane crashes on top of the Andes and the search is stopped after a few days and the rescue teams arrive at the conclusion that there must be no survivors.
Indeed, some are dead upon hitting the ground and a few are injured and they would expire in the coming days, during there is a frantic effort to send signals somehow, to the outside world, which needs to be informed that they are still out there, in the snow and the freezing cold.
The group needs the batteries which could be found in the tail of the plane, but that is somewhere on the mountains, separated from the main body and a lot of effort is dedicated to finding this part, for so much hangs on it…the young people seem to think that it is a life and death issue, for if they find the batteries, they would make the radio send the SOS signal and bingo…
They would be saved.
Alas, even the trip to this cherished tail is next to impossible to make, for there are days when even getting out of the crashed body of the airplane is impossible, with the blizzard and the ferocious weather.
To add insult to injury or more salt to this already serious, life threatening wound, the party has to go through an avalanche during which a few of the men and women are killed, suffocated in the immense body of snow which buries them and enters the wreck.
One gruesome, abhorrent choice that has to be made after some days is whether to die of starvation or do something which appears to be sub – or is it in?- human and survive with the hope that they will be saved by the rescue teams that will receive their message- provided of course that they get the batteries.
When they do find the tail- and some sublime chocolate in the luggage fallen there- the deception is huge, because they cannot make the radio work and they are left with only one option, which is contested by some of the comrades, even when it is clear that the chances of beating death are fast approaching Zero.
When Nando and a few others declare that they have to eat…parts of their dead friends, some of the frail, but still ethical, moral men and one woman refuse to think about this and express horror and disgust, stating clearly that they would never do this…they would rather die.
As a real leader, Nando manages to convince most, using the argument of the children who wait for their father, when he needs to, especially after Liliana Methol dies in the avalanche and her depressed husband, now a widower, sees no reason to live.
So they cut meat from the frozen corpses, lined up near the body of the crashed airplane and this is one of the crucial elements that ensures their survival, together with the presence of Nando, whose insistence, drive, determination, bravery have ensured his escape from this ordeal and that of the rest of the group.
Early on, when he sees that they may have no success with the batteries, radio and eventual signals for help, he presses for an alternative, the plan B scenario, which would have a few travelling to Chile to get help and save the others.
This shows he had perspective, stamina, a fantastic, superhuman Will to Live, which saved him and everybody else, for they had to make the choice, after the battery and radio solution failed and even if it looked impossible, crossing multiple mountains, without gear, preparation, food, knowledge, experience, somehow they managed to perform the
It was a difficult, immense effort, requiring- this has to be repeated- Super Man strength, will, power, skill, intelligence, patience…almost all of the imaginable talents and qualities had to be used.
People should stop going to see Iron Man, Transformers and the like and get to cinemas or look on HBO for films like this, where Real Role Models and Heroes show what humans can do.
There is one scene where one of the party of three who try to get to Chile, slips to the edge, hanging over the precipice and is saved by Nando and the other young man, in what seems to be ridiculously over the top in a regular movie.
But remember! This really happened and sixteen people survived a plane crash on top on the Andes, by eating human flesh and because they had a Wonder Man with them…