Alive (30th Anniversary Edition)


Ethan Hawke as Nando Parrado
Vincent Spano as Antonio Balbi
Josh Hamilton as Roberto Canessa
Bruce Ramsay as Carlitos Páez
John Haymes Newton as Antonio ‘Tintín’ Vizintín
David Kriegel as Gustavo Zerbino
Kevin Breznahan as Roy Harley
Sam Behrens as Javier Methol
Illeana Douglas as Lilliana Methol
Jack Noseworthy as Bobby François
Christian J. Meoli as Federico Aranda
Jake Carpenter as Alberto Artuna
Michael DeLorenzo as Rafael Cano
José Zúñiga as Fraga, the mechanic

Special Features:
Introductions By Frank Marshall
Alive – 20 Years Later
Return to the Andes

Other Info:
Widescreen (1.85:1)
Running Time: 126 Mins.
Dolby Digital Surround Sound
English and Spanish Audio Tracks

This film is based on a true story.

In 1972 a charter plane carrying a rugby team from Uruguay crashes in the Andes Mountains. With many of the passengers killed, the survivors wait in the snow and freezing temperatures to be rescued.

Over a radio, the survivors hear that the search for them has been called off. Facing injuries, avalanches, blizzards, and a lack of food, they realize that there is little hope for survival. As the days drag into weeks and then months, the one remaining option for food is too unthinkable to consider, yet it is their only hope. In order to live, the survivors must eat the flesh of their dead fellow passengers.

Realizing that everyone will die unless someone goes for help, three of the young men volunteer to climb across the mountains to civilization. The lives of the 16 remaining survivors hinges on their success.

Alive is rated R for crash scenes too intense for unaccompanied children.

The Movie:
I missed this movie when it first came out in theaters, so viewing the DVD was my first time to check it out. While I wasn’t blown away, I still found it to be an interesting film and an amazing tale of human survival. I’ve always enjoyed survival stories and this one generally delivered.

Young Ethan Hawke is one of the few recognizable faces in this cast. He does a fine job as the impromptu leader of the group and the one eventually responsible for going for help. He delivers a fine performance. Josh Lucas (A Beautiful Mind, The Hulk) makes an ever so brief cameo before being sucked out of the plane during the spectacular crash. Despite using older effects technology, that scene still stands out as one of the more intense plane crashes seen in film.

Much hype surrounds the presentation of cannibalism in this film, but it thankfully deals with the issue delicately. It appropriately discusses the moral issues surrounding it and depicts it as something necessary for these people’s survival.

The main drawback of the film is that you have a hard time growing close to the characters. The only ones I could identify throughout the film were Ethan Hawke and the one or two women, simply because they stood out. There was the agnostic guy, the leg wound guy, the husband, and the mechanic, but I could tell you nothing more about them. They were just faces that went across the screen that I was unfamiliar with beyond some specific trait of theirs. When they died, you felt little closeness with them if you noticed them die at all.

Despite the drawbacks, Alive is a film worth checking out, especially if you’re into survival films like I am. This one would make a decent renter if you haven’t seen it. I should add, though, that the “30th Anniversary Edition” title is deceptive. It’s the anniversary of the tragedy, not the film itself. This could lead to confusion for some people.

The Extras:
This film is rather light on the extras, but the fact that it is an older film makes this understandable. While I would have liked to have seen some behind the scenes info on the special effects and such, that wasn’t a concern for the makers of the film. The extras focus on the actual event, and that’s where most of the interest lies anyway.

Introductions By Frank Marshall – The director does a brief introduction before the film starts. There’s not much more to this.

Alive – 20 Years Later: This 45-minute (or so) documentary discusses the real life tragedy and the making of the movie. It was filmed to coincide with the release of the movie and is narrated by Martin Sheen. The first half features interviews with the 16 survivors. They talk about the plane crash, avalanche, cannibalism, and aftermath in detail. It’s very interesting to see after viewing the movie. The main drawback is that it sensationalizes the cannibalism aspect and devotes an uncomfortably long time to it. Original photos and film footage from the event are also shown. The second half of the documentary gets heavily into the making of the film. Frank Marshall, Kathleen Kennedy, and the crew discuss the challenges of filming in the snow at high altitudes. You also see the survivors acting as consultants on the movie. One of the ironic things about the documentary is that the survivors point out things that were incorrectly depicted in the film. The content in this makes up for the general lack of extras on the DVD.

Return to the Andes – This is the main new feature on the DVD. Nando Parrado returns to the Andes where the crash site is located 30 years after the tragedy. The feature follows him as he and a team treks into the mountains on horseback. Once there, he reminisces about the events and leaves memorials at the gravesites. While interesting, it’s a bit long and it doesn’t shed much new light on the events if you’ve already watched the other feature.

The Bottom Line:
If you like survival films, this is one to check out. While it’s not an essential addition to your collection, it’s one that’s worth renting.