Directed by JA Bayona, Society of the Snow is based on the book written by Pablo Vierci, and it is inspired by true events. Society of Snow is a tale about determination, grit, and how resilient a human spirit is. It is a true-blue depiction of what it means to have heightened levels of survival instincts. The best thing about the film is that it never overdramatizes the real events and keeps the execution very raw, very simplistic, and very impactful. You get attached to the plight of the characters, and there were moments where JA Bayona was able to make us literally feel what they must have been going through at that point in time.
The mighty Andes, the snow-capped peaks, the struggling human beings, their spirit that was breaking with every passing moment—the concoction of everything left you awestruck. You won’t be able to stop your emotions when you witness the cathartic ending, but more than that, for me, it is a victory for the film when it leaves you wondering about life and philosophies that you don’t get a lot of time to think about. I personally thought about how, in so many moments, I have taken my life for granted and how I forget that we have a limited amount of time on this planet. We are not going to stay here forever, and the sad part is that we never realize it until we approach the finish line. There is a scene in the film where Numa, the narrator, says that he wants to dance, sing, and do everything that he has never done in his life. He saw how beautiful life was and how, for the last 25 years, he had failed to recognize that fact.
Talking about the factual information mentioned in the film, most of it is absolutely correct, though there are a few places where the director took a few creative liberties to enhance the entertainment quotient. October 13th, 1972, was the fateful day when the Uruguayan flight that was going from Montevideo to Santiago crashed in the Andes Mountains. Out of the 45 passengers, many died on the spot, but many survived too. For 72 days, they battled extreme weather conditions, but somehow, call it God’s grace, a miracle, or fate, 16 of them survived and were rescued.
In the film, we saw that Nando, Roberto, and a lot of other people came to the conclusion that they would have to eat human meat in order to survive. It was a huge decision for them to make, and I personally cannot imagine the kind of thoughts that they would have had in their minds before coming to that conclusion. Numa and Marcelo were very stern about the fact that they would not eat the meat of the people they had traveled with because their religious beliefs did not allow them to. But the extreme weather, the bone-breaking cold waves, the lack of hope, and the fear of death made them realize that they would have to resort to eating it, even if their conscience didn’t allow it. Numa resisted for the longest time, but he also gave in as hunger overpowered his ethics and morality. It was in those moments that life flashed before the eyes of passengers, that moment they realized that everything that they had taken for granted felt precious, and everything that they had held dear didn’t matter anymore.
It is shown in the film that Nando, Roberto, Roy, and a few other passengers tried to build a radio and reach the authorities. It happened in real life, but as we saw, they were not able to do so because of the remote location and the scarcity of proper spare materials. Many passengers lost their lives due to extreme weather conditions, and it was very difficult for the ones who were left behind to just sit there helplessly and not save their own people. To make matters worse, an avalanche came, and the plane got buried under the snow. It did happen in real life and the passengers had to literally fight with all their might to breathe. Just to look at it in the film is an extremely difficult task, and we cannot even begin to imagine the kind of claustrophobia they might have felt at that time.
In Society of the Snow, we saw that Fernando “Nando” Parrado and Roberto Canessa made the climb and reached the other side of the Andes Mountains to get help. Had no evidence of this fact been present, I personally wouldn’t have believed that something like that could have happened. But it was true. They did make the impossible climb. They did it without proper food in their system and after being broken in ways they hadn’t ever imagined by the ferocity of nature. I am not sure if it was Numa’s death that triggered Roberto to go find the way or not, but he did accompany Nando in the quest. For the longest time, Roberto didn’t want to make the climb, but it was Nando who convinced him to do it. Nando told him that they were in the best physical condition and that it would be the most foolish thing to just sit there and wait for the day when the forces came to rescue them.
It was Nando’s spirits (at least according to the film) that saved them that day. There was a point in the film when Roberto almost lost hope after climbing one of the peaks. He saw a vast expanse of harsh terrain with no sign of human habitation. He wanted to go back, but it was Nando who told him that he was not going to surrender so easily. The nights were excruciatingly cold, and the days did not bring much respite either, but the two of them kept walking, and they were able to reach the nearest village and inform the authorities. Immediately, the authorities were contacted, and a rescue team was dispatched. It must have been a sight for sore eyes when they heard the sound of the helicopter wings. The survivors were given immediate medical care before being reunited with their families. Society of the Snow is one of those films that you cannot miss, and it is undeniably one of the better films made this year overall, which would hopefully create a sensation at the Academy Awards.