Almost 20 years before Frank Marshall brought tears to your eyes with his mesmerizing epic "Alive", there already was the legendary Mexican exploitation director René Cardona who used the same drama as an outline for his ambitious film "Supervivientes de los Andes". The unforgettable fatal flight of Fairchild 571 that crashed in the Argentinian Andes on October 13, 1972. This terrible accident cost the lives of many passengers, most of them members of a professional rugby team. But 16 people of them were eventually rescued thanks to their strong will to survive and because they fed on the mortal remains of their unfortunate fellow-passengers. Of course you can't claim that this cheaply made and roughly edited film is better than the famous 90's version but I definitely appreciate and respect this film more. After all, an exploitation film demands a lot more input from both cast and crew while the big-budgeted Marshall film, although intense, feels more like routine money-making. The sets and special effects naturally can't compete with "Alive", but "Supervivientes..." delivers an equally impressive sentiment of hopelessness and creates an even more nightmarish hell of snow. Cardona's film is ambitious, surprisingly compelling and easily one of the most remarkable Mexican productions ever. I am really astonished that Cardona's take on this story isn't more exploitative and explicit. The scenes where the deceased passengers are cut open and consumed are nevertheless hard to digest, but they only serve to increase the credibility of the catastrophe and to stress the inhuman conditions of the survivors. Rather praiseworthy for a vicious director who gained fame with his notoriously bad films like "Night of the Bloody Apes" and the Santo-series. The unknown young Mexican actors do a great job and the musical score is endearing. The story is well-known, of course, so the screenplay doesn't offer any unexpected shocks. Either by history or previously having seen "Alive", you know which kind of dramas these people still have to endure before being rescued and you can only await them. Still, this is a good film that shouldn't be bashed like too often is the case.
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