Review by Camden Ferrell
The 1972 Andes flight disaster is globally known and has been referenced and adapted in numerous pieces of media since then. The newest film from J.A. Bayona is the most recent attempt to tell this harrowing story of survival. Society of the Snow had its premiere at the 2023 Venice International Film Festival, and it is the Spanish submission for Best International Feature for the upcoming Academy Awards. An impressive feat of storytelling and visual effects, this movie will shock you with its brutality and surprise you with its abundant humanity.
A Uruguayan rugby team finds themselves embarking on a trip to Chile with other passengers when the plane collides with the Andes mountains, killing several and stranding the rest. In unbearable temperatures and with minimal food, the remaining survivors must battle the elements and grapple with their own morality in order to persevere and live to see another day. This story is widely known, but it’s still fascinating to get an in-depth look at what they experienced on a day-to-day basis and learn more about their stories and humanity.
Based on Pablo Vierci’s book of the same name, this movie was written by Bayona, Nicolás Casariego, and Jaime Marques. These writers do a great job with balancing the different conflicts in the movie. It’s a classic tale of man vs. nature while also being an emotional saga of man vs. self. The characters feel fleshed out which make the brutal elements they face feel more brutal and visceral. The emotional moments are earned thanks to the great and subtle characterization done by the writers. It has some great moments of dialogue throughout as well which keeps this movie feeling fresh despite taking place in mostly one location.
This movie thrives off of its talented ensemble with great chemistry. It would be remiss not to give credit to everyone in the cast for bringing these characters to life. However, the highlights of this movie are Enzo Vogrincic Roldán, Matías Recalt, and Agustín Pardella. They have the most screen time of the cast, and they are commanding in their respective roles. They perfectly portray the horror, desperation, and sorrow of these characters. They’re captivating to watch and round the movie out nicely.
While the humanity of this story is on full display, one must also commend the amazing VFX work of this film. Throughout the movie, everything feels so immense in scale and spectacle, but the effects maintain the film’s realism which heightens its brutality. In addition to this, Pedro Luque’s work as a cinematographer is brilliant from start to finish, featuring some creative shots and imagery. And Michael Giacchino’s tender and emotional score rounds out the film beautifully.
Bayona has outdone himself with Society of the Snow. It’s a chilling and gripping tale of survival that audiences will have a hard time looking away from. It is a technical marvel and a storytelling marvel as well. It’s one of the finest survival thrillers in recent years, and a heartfelt testament to the survivors and victims of this horrible tragedy.
Society of the Snow is in theaters December 22 and streaming on Netflix January 4.