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Laramie Movie Scope:
Society of the Snow

A stark tale of survival

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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January 7, 2024 – This historical drama of survival depicting the 1972 Uruguayan air crash disaster in the Andes Mountains might just be the definitive one of more than half a dozen movies and TV documentaries covering this same event. It is in Spanish with English subtitles.

The crash happened on October 13, 1972, due to pilot error. The flight was carrying 19 members of the Old Christians Club rugby union team, along with their families, supporters and friends, a total of 45 passengers and crew. Although rescue aircraft flew directly over the crash site, neither the aircraft, nor the survivors were spotted during an eight day search.

The search ended, and survivors of the crash were on their own for 72 days. The first to die, after those killed outright by the crash, were those who were badly injured in the crash. Others were killed by illness, exposure and avalanches which slammed into a part of the fuselage of the plane being used for shelter.

The movie details how the survivors at first believe they will be rescued quickly. Then, they begin to doubt that rescue is just around the corner. Their hopes are then dashed when they hear a radio broadcast that the search for their plane has been called off. Then, the survivors are forced to resort to cannibalism when their food supply runs out. Several passengers give their permission for their bodies to be used for food if they die.

The crash site is over 11,000 feet above sea level in an inhospitable landscape, with no source of food. The fuselage had broken in two upon impact, so some survivors walked out to try to find the missing section of the fuselage, but it wasn't where they thought it would be. Without shelter, or adequate clothing, they can't survive long away from shelter for an extended search.

Eventually, they stumble upon the tail part of the fuselage, and there find some needed supplies, including some material that can be sewn together to make a portable shelter for extended hikes. Eventually, the weather warms up enough for an attempt to hike out of the mountains, and three of the sturdy rugby players volunteer to try to go for help.

Much of the movie is made up of scenes depicting the range of emotions among the survivors, and their various reactions to the desperate measures needed to survive, especially the cannibalism. The suffering of the survivors and the deaths of 13 of the survivors during their 72 day ordeal, is a very grim subject, which is handled with considerable sensitivity.

From what I've read (including survivors who approve of this film) this movie may be the most historically accurate dramatic recreation of these events, not counting documentaries, or recorded interviews with the actual survivors. If you want to witness how people really react to a situation like this, this is as close to it as you are likely to find.

The acting, and location shots are very effective. Writer-Director J.A. Bayona (“A Monster Calls”) has some experience with this kind of story, having directed a story about tsunami survivors (“The Impossible”) in 2012, and he does a good job here, with a different kind of long term survival story. This movie rates a B.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff (no extra charges apply). I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2024 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)

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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at dalek three zero one nine at gmail dot com [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]