Saturday, September 10, 2011

Alive: 20 Years Later (1993)

From up to 72 days to 20 years later

"Alive: 20 Years Later" is a companion documentary piece to the 1993 film "Alive" that fills in some of the gaps of what the movie couldn't slow down to show in a reasonable time frame. This is broken up with spoken English and some dub overs in Spanish, along with a narration courtesy of Martin Sheen. Survivor Nando Parrado speaks a majority of the time, along with some others such as the Strauch relatives as the time progresses.

Twenty years later and a share of the sixteen survivors look back on what was going through their heads and how it has affected them up till the present day of the early '90s. There's behind the scenes shots of the movie "Alive" that show Nando and a few others visiting the set as technical advisors. Actors of the film are only shown from a distance as the focus is more on the real life people. Though there are some brief interviews with the filmmakers in between. The fuselage that was built to recreate the aftermath of their accident is so accurate according to one survivor that it brings back instant memories. They fill in some of the gaps of the 10 day journey through the mountains that also involves the final rescue and knowing that everything was okay at that point. Some black and white photographs are shown in the after with faces buried in beards but smiles of elation emerging from underneath.

Many of the survivors live in the surrounding area as not only to each other but also the ones that didn't make it out. Even though the families are reminded with their presence, they have to be careful with what they say, as it can get around to someone who is trying to forget. Therefore, the bodies that were used or in what order are never disclosed. They speak about some divided views of whether or not it was right that they ate their friends to survive, which was hot on people's minds right afterwards. I mean, "Soylent Green" had a related twist that caused people to reel in their seats just a year later in '73; not to mention that point was only in the script and not in the prior novel. Their priest gives his thoughts of the events, along with some who did the act and how it affected them, or whether they would do it again. There's honesty here with admitting to not being as strong and then others who did more not wanting to be considered heroes. No one wanted to be there but they made the best of it and use it as a growing point to live on. It's an inspirational story that shows how much spirit a group of human beings has. Most of us never had to do even a fraction of what they did, and probably will never have to, so it's something to hold in the back of one's mind as a reminder.

As a definitive documentary, this doesn't capture everything. Though as a piece to give a sampled overview of the events, "Alive: 20 Years Later" works in that regard as it gives out various snippets of information and shows some visuals of the then and now. The behind the scenes of "Alive" are only briefly covered and none of the performers spoke of how the role affected them or how they prepared, nor how it came to be made into a movie again. Also, some sections feel like they're too compacted and succinct to give room for contemplation or to feel the emotional impact. This is told somewhat out of sequence and with some roving thoughts pertaining to the events, which doesn't always make it progress or grow from the outset when it jumps back and forth. This is relatively brief and sometimes to the point in areas like either the filmmakers or the interviewed have somewhere else to be. That or the editor went a little overboard or they had to fill only a select time frame since it clocks in at around 50 minutes. There are still some interesting tidbits that aren't in the "Alive" film, nor "Supervivientes de los Andes/Survive!" from '76 based on the same events.

Rating: 6.5/10

Director: Jill Fullerton-Smith
Link: IMDB

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