'Society of the Snow' and 'Alive' Recount the Brutal 1972 Andes Plane Crash

Allison DeGrushe - Author
By

Dec. 18 2023, Published 3:56 p.m. ET

'Society of the Snow' and 'Alive' official posters.
Source: Netflix / Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

The Gist:

  • Society of the Snow and Alive are survival films that tell the same story.
  • Both films recount the true story of the Uruguayan 1972 Andes flight disaster.
  • Society of the Snow sets itself apart from Alive through the source material used for research.
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In a world filled with endless reboots, remakes, and reimaginings, true stories have emerged as the fan-favorite trend, capturing the attention of many film buffs. In fact, Society of the Snow, a gripping survival thriller, has become the talk of critics following its spectacular world premiere at the 80th Venice International Film Festival.

Spanish filmmaker J.A. Bayona breathes life into real-life events, yet cinephiles may sense a déjà vu, recalling director Frank Marshall's 1993 survival drama Alive. With the buzz surrounding Society of the Snow, one question remains: Are the narratives of Society of the Snow and Alive the same?

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'Society of the Snow'
Source: Netflix

'Society of the Snow' vs. 'Alive' — is it the same story?

In an unexpected twist, both Society of the Snow and Alive unfold the tragic tale of the Uruguayan 1972 Andes flight disaster. However, despite the shared narrative, Society of the Snow manages to carve its own identity by employing unique stylistic approaches and delving into different source material for research.

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The 1993 flick Alive is based on British novelist and historian Piers Paul Read's 1974 book Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors. Recognized with the Thomas More Medal for its outstanding contribution to Catholic literature in 1974, the novel has achieved global success with millions of copies sold.

'Society of the Snow'
Source: Netflix
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In contrast, the 2023 thriller Society of the Snow is an adaptation of the eponymous book by Uruguayan writer Pablo Vierci. Pablo's novel delves into the unsettling accounts of all 16 survivors of the crash, many of whom he knew from childhood, providing a unique perspective on the harrowing events.

With meticulous research, the book provides detailed facts, and the film adaptation goes to great lengths to maintain authenticity to the source material and, consequently, the actual events. As a result, Society of the Snow emerges as a potentially more authentic portrayal than Alive.

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'Society of the Snow' and 'Alive' recount the same true story.

As previously mentioned, both Society of the Snow and Alive vividly depict the crash of Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 on Oct. 13, 1972. The flight was en route from Montevideo, Uruguay, to Santiago, Chile.

The plane, a Fairchild FH-227D, was carrying 45 passengers and crew, including 19 members of the Old Christians Club rugby union team along with their family and friends.

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Unfortunately, the plane crashed in the Andes Mountains in Argentina due to poor weather conditions and navigation errors. Despite multiple aerial searches conducted by authorities in the days that followed, the white fuselage proved elusive against the snow-covered terrain. Search efforts were called off after eight days.

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Over the next 72 days, the survivors of the Andes flight disaster faced several severe challenges, including freezing temperatures, starvation, and a devastating avalanche that claimed the lives of an additional 13 passengers. Faced with desperate circumstances, the remaining individuals resorted to cannibalism.

As the weather improved with the onset of late spring, two survivors, Nando Parrado and Roberto Canessa, ascended a 15,260-foot mountain peak without any gear. The pair then embarked on a 10-day hike covering 38 miles, ultimately reaching Chile in their quest for help. On Dec. 23, 1972, two months after the plane crash, the last of the 16 survivors were finally rescued.

Society of Snow will play in select theaters starting December 22 before coming to Netflix on Thursday, January 4.

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