On Friday, October 13th, 1972, players, family members, and friends of the Old Christians rugby team of Stella Maris College left Montevideo, Uruguay, to play a friendly match in Santiago, Chile. Their plane crashed on route in the remote mountainous region bordering Chile and Argentina. By the eighth day, eighteen passengers had died. The remaining twenty-seven faced unspeakable hardship for over two months in their struggle to survive.
Stranded: The Andes Plane Crash Survvors is their story.
You might think that you’ve seen this story before; Frank Marshall made a movie based on their tale in 1993, but Stranded goes one step further. Rather than being a movie based on an event, Stranded is a documentary where the survivors come together and talk about their ordeals for the first time in the 30 years since the crash.
Using a collage of re-enactments, actual photos and film, along with the survivors themselves talking about their ordeal, Stranded manages to do what the film (Alive) could never do; it brings a sense of shocking reality to what actually happened.
With no food and no hope of rescue, the survivors had to turn to extreme measures to survive: they had to eat the flesh of their dead friends. This is what may have made the headlines when the story broke, but this is not the total focus of the documentary.
Every person on that flight was a Catholic, and through the trial, hardship and agonising decisions, their faith was severely tested, with differing results. Eventually, most lost the will to go on, but then an almost catastrophic event made them realise that life was worth living for and they started to plan not only their survival, but also there own endeavour to get help.
Two members of their team would have to walk over the mountain ranges to find civilisation. With only 10 days worth of food, and bodies that had endured lack of real food, it would be an extremely risky, but ultimately worthwhile expedition.
A true test of faith and the human spirit, Stranded is a compelling watch, even with it’s subtitles and long runtime, the effort put into watching this film is well worth it.
There is an emotional scene at the end of the movie where actual television footage of their press conference is used, showing how they addressed the subject of what the press were sensationalising as cannibalism; they likened it to Holy Communion where Jesus taught his disciples to drink his blood and consume his flesh. It was an intimate, personal choice for them that would mean the difference between life and death.
Reviewed by: Jonathan Read.
Rating: M – Contains low level offensive language.
Release Date: November 13th, 2008
Length (Minutes): 113
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Languages: English, French, Spanish.
Year of Original Release: 2006
Media Format: DVD