Extreme Test of Human Endurance in ‘Society of the Snow’ [Movie Review]
By: Russ Matthews
The mystery and intrigue of the 1972 story of the survival of the Old Christians Club rugby union team after the fateful plane crash in the Andes continues to captivate people’s imaginations after five decades.
The harrowing 72-day tale involved extreme winter conditions, treacherous mountain terrain, avalanches, cannibalism, and an extreme test of human endurance. Writer/director J. A. Bayona (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom) worked for over 10 years to adapt Pablo Vierci’s book, which included the accounts of the 16 survivors.
On October 13th, 1972, Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 took off with 45 passengers and crew flying to Santiago, Chile. Unfortunately, the plane crashed into the Andes mountain range due to pilot error. Despite numerous rescue attempts, the survivors of the flight had to do all they could to combat the weather, multiple injuries, and starvation over the days they waited for someone to come for them. They worked through various means of survival, including short expeditions, ingenuity with the remaining aircraft, and eventually cannibalistic practices. As the days wore on and as the death toll rose, they finally sent a team off to look for assistance and eventually found help in the spring in time to save the remnant of the doomed flight.
After many books, films, and other media, many may wonder if there is anything more to be said about this legendary tale of human endurance. Bayona answers these queries by walking the line between reality and tasteful artistic expression to deliver this story to a new generation. He delivers one of his best films that draws outstanding performances from the young cast. One could argue that the 144-minute run time was meant to help viewers to tap into their own personal reservoir of perseverance to empathise with those on screen. Yet, the length should be sufficient for audiences to discover this historical account that taps into the notion of being human.
An experience that is not for the faint of heart, these accounts not only show the limits of human endurance but engage with the spiritual and philosophical sides of humanity. Amongst the plans the passengers had to make to survive each day and situation, there are fascinating conversations about belief, morality, mortality and God. There may be a temptation to fast-forward through many of the snow-swept scenes, but this would take away from the overall experience that rivals Castaway in how this screenplay exposes the very heart of mankind.
Netflix proves how they are willing to allow filmmakers to create amazing stories that can still capture the imaginations of audiences. Society of the Snow is worth discovering and exploring the more profound questions of life and what it means to live on this earth.
REEL DIALOGUE: Why does God allow people to go through difficult situations?
Throughout our life on this earth, we strive to find comfort and seek after the least painful means of living. From pain medication to air-conditioning, life in the Western world can be relatively pain-free, but is this the true ideal?
Looking back at history, mankind continues to prove that trials can bring out the best in us. Few people seek out difficulties in their lives because they come without having to look for them. When confronted by these challenges, personal development and testimonies generally show what individuals have within themselves.
This is also evident in biblical history. Each book of the Old Testament and New Testament shows that life’s tribulations can provide actual growth for the people of the past, and these lessons can be a gift for us today. This is epitomised in the life and times of Jesus, whose painful end brought forward the answer for all of our difficulties.
And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. – 1 Peter 5:10
Article supplied with thanks to City Bible Forum.
All images: Movie stills
About the author: Russ Matthews is a film critic at City Bible Forum and Reel Dialogue. He has a passion for film and sparking spiritual conversations.
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