The Society of the Snow: A Brutal and Intimate Portrayal of Survival
The tale of Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 has been recounted in various films, but J.A. Bayona’s Netflix movie Society of the Snow offers a chilling and in-depth depiction of the harrowing experience. Unlike previous adaptations, Bayona’s film delves into the complexities and moral dilemmas faced by the survivors, steering clear of the optimistic narratives often seen in Hollywood disaster movies.
Based on Pablo Vierci’s book, the movie follows the crash of Flight 571 en route to Santiago, Chile in 1972. Rather than resorting to a broad, four-quadrant, feel-good approach, Bayona scrutinizes the “triumph of the human spirit” arc, presenting the survivors’ ordeal as a murky, intimate scenario.
An Intimate Perspective of Survival
The film introduces the picturesque setting of the Andes mountains where the survivors, including the contemplative Numa Turcatti, find themselves stranded. Turcatti’s mournful voiceover anchors the narrative, providing a unique perspective on the events that unfold.
Bayona masterfully chronicles the survivors’ physical and emotional pain, re-creating the plane crash in terrifying detail. As the story progresses, the frigid palette and stark visuals capture the increasing hopelessness and desperation of the survivors.
The Unflinching Reality of Survival
Michael Giacchino’s intense and classical score amplifies the sense of foreboding, echoing off the icy mountain tops and accentuating the characters’ struggle for survival. The characters’ roles and dilemmas are portrayed with powerful silence, exposing the raw spiritual agony they feel as they grapple with impossible choices.
The ethical debate over consuming human flesh becomes a significant part of the film, with religious undertones looming large over the conversation. However, Bayona’s approach to this moral quandary feels subtly spiritual, adding a profound layer to the narrative.
An Incredibly Moving Journey
Despite its omissions, Society of the Snow is an incredibly moving and haunting viewing experience. Bayona’s film forces viewers to bear witness to the torments of the survivors, capturing both kindness and depravity with unrelenting intimacy.
Society of the Snow is streaming on Netflix now.