Saturday, September 10, 2011

Alive in the Andes (2007)

A stylized retelling

This was fittingly the first episode for a National Geographic television spot with episodes that ran under an hour that focused on disasters that involved people who were "Trapped." Those involved in the Andes mountains plane crash back in '72 carrying a team of Uruguayan rugby players along with other passengers, weren't trapped in an enclosed place with walls, but still locked down to a certain area by harsh weather conditions in a remote terrain with no wildlife or vegetation.

This is a high-octane version of the events that lasted 72 days in below freezing temperature, with a share of flashy filmmaking techniques to amp up the juices. Forty-five passengers get quickly dwindled down to sixteen and makes the Andes look like a serial murderer, with crude medical terminology to study its unfeeling ways. The reenactments--with English spoken with American accents--coupled with loud sound effects and bombastic performances hit the viewer with force as they over-emphasize to grab your attention by being the loudest person in the room. To its benefit, from what starts out in the viewer's face somewhat cools its heals and extends a few scenes to get some thoughts and emotional contemplation in about their impossible situation and what they had to endure. Though this still concentrates more on the action and movement of what they went through than always about the friendships, bonding or spirituality of what they felt, which ultimately helped them make it through. However, it did show the lengths Carlito's father went through despite it being a plane crash with record weather conditions and a number of days since. He felt his son was still alive and it was truly captivating by showing the other side of holding on to those that matter most.

This is challenging story to tell in under an hour's time frame for one of the most harrowing tales of survival in the last century since a share of landscapes turned into concrete jungles. "Trapped" did handle the events with more depth than A & E's "Minute by Minute" episode from 2002 titled "The 1972 Andes Survivors." Instead of learning from a spiritual stand point like the documentary "Stranded," that also came out in 2007, this takes educational facts about their surroundings with alternate scenes of CGI that shows a transparent human body, such as hypothermia and dehydration, and then what they had to do to overcome those obstacles. Still, there are chunks that are missing. At one point it's going with a day by day analysis, which helps to reasonably work up to why they had to eat human flesh for sustenance than sensationalizing it, then skips from Day 17 to 43. What's disappointing with a share of "Trapped" was it took an event from 1972 in South America and attempted to translate that to audiences nowadays. Though it feels like it carries more of the modern times than how those people lived or what was going through their heads that was relative to the year. It feels somewhat hip and trendy to 2007, and carries more a style and trademark from the filmmakers to the point of being distracting in areas from those originally involved. The narration adds flavor and includes a characteristic voice, yes, though it still seems out of place with his flamboyant, oddly syllabified proper English.

Rating: 6.5/10

Director: Tim Wolochatiuk
Link: IMDB, video on Youtube

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