A powerful, thought-provoking and sensitive retelling of an incredible story
The actual survivors of the 1972 Andes plane crash have finally spoken, and you will be captivated by their words. Gonzalo Arijon, a neighbor and friend of many of the survivors, has put together a documentary called "Stranded: I Have Come from a Plane that Crashed on the Mountains" that retells the story and illuminates it with commentary from all the survivors. The result is the closest one could possibly get to empathizing with that situation and gaining any sort of understanding of how life changes when you are stranded in the mountains for over 70 days.
The film tells it from right as they are getting on the plane until their eventual rescue, leaving very little out. It runs a bit too long, but it's worth it for the emotional impact. You need to have some familiarity with the monotony of the survivors' lives for those two months to truly appreciate their rescue.
While the survivors are the ones who truly make this story come to life, Arijon succeeds in his reenactments and the way he overlaps the survivors' words with these images. He never reenacts anything dramatically or let any words other than those of the survivors into the film. The images he recreates simply set a mood, provide some sort of visual context for the words of the survivors.
The way these men describe what happened is simply remarkable. They seem to recall it so vividly and the words they use to convey feelings that an overwhelming majority of people cannot ever say they have experienced in such a way that you can understand it. When the survivors are hit with an avalanche, the way they describe this near-death experience gives you a sense of what death might feel like. It is not far off when these men refer to their survival as coming back to life. The silence during the very sensitive and difficult parts is also very appropriate and effective. Lastly, the survivors come at the experience from all angles. There is so much to think about in this film from the way they view life now to how being outside of civilization affects your mind to the ethical considerations of the cannibalism that these men chose to partake in.
"Stranded" is powerful, deep and rich with complexity. It was far and away worth the four years of effort and care that Arijon gave it. It is simply one of the best stories of human perseverance ever and the film conveys this with absolute accuracy. ~Steven C
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