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Alive is a 1993 drama film, starring (among others) Ethan Hawke, Vincent Spano, John Hamilton, Bruce Ramsay, and John Newton. This was the second film directed by Frank Marshall, previously known for Arachnophobia (1990).
The film is an adaptation of a non-fiction book: "Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors" (1974) by Piers Paul Read. It describes in detail the events of Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 and the story of its survivors. In summary, the plain contained 5 crew members and 40 passengers. The passengers were the members of the "Old Christians Club", a rugby team, along with various family members and associates. The flight took off from their native Montevideo, Uruguay for Santiago, Chile. But on October 13 (a Friday), 1972 the airplane crashed on a then-unnamed peak of the Andes (later called Glacier of Tears). 12 people died in the crash, including the pilots. The other 33 were left stranded in an uninhabited area at the borders of Chile and Argentina.
The survivors had to survive on their own while waiting for help. Several suffering from injuries, all suffering from a complete lack of medical supplies and their meager food supplies. Over the following months several would die from injuries, disease or avalanches. Those surviving eventually resorted to cannibalism, eating the bodies of their dead comrades. They attempted a number of expeditions but failed to contact anyone, prior to returning to the remains of the plane. On December 20, two of them (Roberto Cannesa, and Fernando Parrado) managed to establish contact a Chilean huaso (local equivalent of the gaucho and cowboy). He brought them help. By December 23, the final 16 survivors were rescued and brought to civilization. They had survived 72 days in the wild.
The film closely follows the events of the book, though it notably changes the focus. Piers Read payed close attention to the harshness of the living condition and the sociological aspects of organizing a group in the wild. Also giving a calm and detached view of the extreme measures they had to take to survive. Cannibalism included. Marshall was more interested in the Heroic Spirit of the people trying to survive. Cannibalism is portrayed but its brutal details are largely left out. The film has been praised for the way the "barren hopeless wasteland" of the Andes, strong performances by the leads, and some genuine human drama. But often criticized for glossing over the worst effects of starvation, dehydration, etc.
In any case, the film has received rather positive reviews. The Rotten Tomatoes website gives it a positive rating of 71%. It performed decently at the box office. It earned about 37 million dollars in the American market. Where it was the 41st most successful film of its year. The soundtrack by James Newton Howard is also well regarded.
This film provides examples of:
- Bring Help Back: Realizing that rescue searches were over, two team members walk over the Andes mountains into Chile to summon help.
- I'm a Humanitarian: The survivors have to choose between resorting to cannibalism and dying from starvation. Obviously they choose the first option.
- No Party Like a Donner Party:In the bitter cold at altitude, with no vegetation or animals, the survivors eventually resort to eating the remains of the deceased.
- Let's Have Another Baby: Lilliana Methol (Ileana Douglas) tells her husband she wants to have another baby. That night an avalanche crashes in over the fuselage, killing several people, among others Lilliana.
- Robinsonade: Survivors of tragic accidents trying to survive. Stranded in an uncharted location. Everything here except that the story takes place away from the sea.