Saturday, September 10, 2011

The 1972 Andes Survivors (2002)

A pep-me-up retelling

This was a 45 minute spot from a TV show called "Minute by Minute" that ran from 2001-2002 on A & E. This recounts the story of the Andes survivors, from before the original 45 passengers stepped onto Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 destined for Chile all the way up to when the 16 remaining made it back home from two members of their party trekking over the mountains from rescues being called off. This is a good starting point if you've never heard of the events before, or only in passing and want to know more in 45 minutes.

This was a snappy retelling with the intention of getting a viewer's heart racing to see what happens next, rather than being thoroughly informative despite the show's title of "Minute by Minute." If you've seen either the films "Supervivientes de los Andes" or "Alive" or even read one of the books, this isn't going to say very much that's new, except to possibly show them at the 30 year mark still alive and living life to the fullest is captivating in itself. I did find it interesting to note that they didn't go straight from Uruguay to Chile, which some of the other retellings show, but had a layover in Argentina due to the weather conditions, but then proceeded forward the next day anyway. The meat of what they went through is here (no pun intended) with quick edits and clipped narration with a steady flow of information to get charged by. Though for an emotional context, this doesn't always leave room for the characters to truly open up, since a specific person never says more than a few lines at a time, rather than to give a brief and succinct factual version of their account with frequent time lines displayed on the screen for that "Minute by Minute" touch that makes it feel too planned and not translate that everyday was unsure as the last.

This only gets a few perspectives of the account. It has spoken English interviews with Roberto Canessa, Canessa's girlfriend Laura Surraco, Fernando "Nando" Parrado, Carlitos Paez, Coche Inciarte and Inciarte's fiancee Soledad Gonzalez. Dubbed English with General Jorge Massa (Chilean Air Force), Carlitos's father, Father Andres Rojas and Dr. Jose Ausin (first doctor to examine them). There is still enthusiasm to tell their tale even after 30 years at this point. Though this isn't a story that can be effectively told in a short time frame, since major events don't happen one after the other. They went through 72 intense days with an array of emotions to battle, one of them being that they didn't know if they would live or die tomorrow or after going to sleep. What actually happened to them is more a slower crawl till the light at the end of the tunnel, than the usual survival in the wilderness story where you can put emotion on the back burner to stay alive. On the other hand, for a viewer who gets touched fairly easily, the tone here is kept somewhat upbeat and hopeful in most areas, despite what the survivors have stated they felt on other days in different interviews. I guess that shows what the power of editing can do.

Rating: 6.5/10

Link: IMDB, video link Youtube

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