The 1972 Andes plane crash story has been told many times. ‘Society of the Snow’ is something new

January 3, 2024 10:00 am

[Source: AP]

When Gustavo Zerbino watched “La Sociedad de la Nieve,” the 1972 plane crash survivor felt as if he was being submerged “into boiling water,” reliving the roughly 70 days he and his teammates were stranded in the snow-covered Andes mountains.

Zerbino praised J.A. Bayona’s raw and unfiltered film, which is being released Wednesday as “Society of the Snow” on Netflix in the U.S., but said he also felt the same anxieties and emotions he felt while stranded as a young athlete more than 50 years ago.

“Fortunately, that feeling ended in 2 1/2 hours,” he told The Associated Press this past October. (All interviews for this story were conducted in Spanish.)

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Bayona’s movie is based on Pablo Vierci’s book of the same title, and follows the story of the Uruguayan Air Force plane disaster. The Old Christians rugby team was traveling with relatives and friends to Chile for a match when their plane crashed, stranding them in the mountains where they faced snow storms, avalanches and starvation, forcing them to eat the flesh of those who had died.

The tale of the tragedy has been told numerous times. It’s been referenced in shows like “Seinfeld,” dramatized in countless films like the 1993 narrative film “Alive” with Ethan Hawke, served as the subject of documentaries and plays and even inspired Showtime’s Emmy-nominated “Yellowjackets.”

“We always felt something was missing,” says Zerbino, reflecting on past projects. “‘Society of the Snow’ is the book that filled in that missing piece.”

Tackling the complex story of endurance and survival, Bayona wanted to do more than just direct a dramatic interpretation of real-life tragedy. He wanted to tell a story that honored the event’s survivors and victims and their Uruguayan culture.

“It’s more a reflection than an action book and ultimately helped me a lot in understanding the characters,” the Spanish director said of Vierci’s book. Vierci is an associate producer on the film.