Thursday, April 23, 2009

Stranded DVD

DVD Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Documentary on DVD Recounts Crash Survivors’ Cannibalism

On October 13, 1972, a plane chartered by a Uruguayan rugby team set out for Chile with 40 passengers and a crew of 5 aboard. Unfortunately, after encountering inclement weather and considerable turbulence, the aircraft crashed in a remote region of the snow-capped Andes Mountains.
Less than 30 survived the initial impact, including one player’s wife, and they quickly started attending to each other’s wounds while scrambling to protect themselves from the elements. Someone found a battery-powered radio, so the group was able to hear that a search party had been organized. However, after their would-be rescuers were unable to locate them or the wreckage, it gradually became clear that they simply would have to save themselves.
That ensuing effort is the subject of Stranded: I’ve Come from a Plane That Crashed in the Mountains, a fascinating documentary directed by Gonzalo Arijon. What makes the picture so compelling is the fact that all was apparently not peachy keen among the rugby team during their harrowing ordeal, as a Lord of the Flies scenario unfolded, including incidents of stealing from what little rations they had available. Most shocking was the decision to resort to cannibalism for nourishment when they found themselves facing the prospect of starvation.
Ultimately, 16 men made it out alive, but only after devouring meat from the bodies of those who had either perished in the accident, or later from freezing, injuries or in an avalanche which killed 8. Devout Catholics, the survivors recount here how they rationalized their acts by blessing their friends’ corpses and by thinking of their sanctified flesh as Holy Communion.
Remarkably, today, all 16 remain close, living within a few hundred yards of each other. An uplifting tale of triumph over nature and a moving tribute to the indomitability of the human spirit.

Excellent (4 stars)
Unrated
In Spanish and English with subtitles.
Running time: 126 minutes
Studio: Zeitgeist Films
DVD Extras: “The Making of Stranded,” a 52-minute featurette with behind-the-scenes footage of the cast and crew, and additional interviews with the Andes crash survivors, director's statement and a note on Academy Award-nominated cinematographer César Charlone, plus the U.S. theatrical trailer

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