Review by Brian Koller|
3½ stars out of 4
"Alive" is one of the best disaster films ever made. This may
be because it is based on a true story, thus avoiding the
usual disaster formula of presenting us with dubious (but
demographically diverse) characters and unrealistic heroes.
Another difference from the typical disaster movie is that
there are no real villians in "Alive". The character that comes
closest is the plane's mechanic, whose greatest crime is stealing
an injured girl's coat.
The story is very compelling, and the subtitle "Miracle of
the Andes" is well deserved. (Although "Horror of the Andes" may
be even more appropriate.) It is a miracle that anyone returned
from those mountains alive.
"Alive" begins with a chartered plane full of Uruguayan soccer
players, en route to Chile. There is a storm, and their plane
crashes into the desolate Andes mountains. The plane crash is
stunning. I doubt that Hollywood has ever done another better.
About half the passengers, mostly young male soccer players,
survive the crash. They nurse the wounded, obtain shelter from
the cold, obtain water, ration food, and wait for a rescue that
doesn't arrive. Needed leadership is initially provided by
angst-ridden team captain Antonio (Vincent Spano) and medical
student Roberto (Josh Hamilton), but later surprisingly arises
from Nando (Ethan Hawke). Antonio's despair, Roberto's
pettiness, and Nando's vision all come across with credibility.
The nature of the story provides dramatic tension, and the
setting (the Andes mountains) provides superb cinematography.
"Alive" will always be infamous in film circles because of its
subject matter: the survivors were forced to cannibalize the
dead, since there was no other source of food. It is unfairly
cynical to judge the film by this, but undoubtedly that has
kept the film from receiving its due merits or box office
Copyright © 1999 Brian Koller