Is Society of the Snow based on a true story? Netflix’s movie plot explored

A scene from Society of the Snow (Image via Netflix)
A scene from Society of the Snow (Image via Netflix)

As viewers prepare to embark on a riveting journey into the harrowing tale of survival with Society of the Snow, directed by Spanish filmmaker J.A. Bayona and produced by Netflix, this adaptation vividly recounts the true story of the 1972 Andes plane crash that left a Uruguayan rugby team stranded.

The film is reportedly set to take the global stage as Spain's contender for the Best International Film at the Oscars. The chilling narrative unfolds in the unforgiving Andes Mountains, where 29 passengers battled the elements for two months.

As audiences anticipate its Netflix release on January 4, 2024, the question arises: Is this film based on a true story?


Society of the Snow is based on a true story

Society of the Snow is grounded in the chilling realities of the Uruguayan 1972 Andes flight disaster. On October 13, 1972, Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 crashed in the Andes Mountains, carrying 45 passengers and crew, including the Old Christians Club rugby union team.

The drama chronicles the 'Miracle of the Andes', a tale of survival that saw 16 individuals rescued 72 days after the crash, including survivors Roberto Canessa and Fernando Parrado's remarkable journey - a 10-day hike through the snowy mountains and approximately 38 miles without gear.


What is Society of the Snow about?

The film unfolds against the backdrop of the Andes Mountains, where a Uruguayan rugby team faced unimaginable challenges after their plane crashed. Directed by J.A. Bayona, the film provides an authentic depiction of the survivors' harrowing experiences.

The narrative explores the depths of human resilience, depicting how the stranded individuals resorted to extreme measures to endure the inhospitable conditions. Bayona's meticulous approach to filmmaking, including shooting at the actual crash site, offers audiences a visceral and emotionally charged experience.


Is Society of the Snow a remake of Alive?

While both Society of the Snow and Alive share the backdrop of the Andes plane crash, they are distinct adaptations of the same real-life events. Alive, released in 1993, is based on Piers Paul Read's 1974 book, Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors.

In contrast, Society of the Snow draws inspiration from Pablo Vierci's 2008 book, La Sociedad de la Nieve. The Netflix adaptation stands out for its commitment to authenticity, with Bayona emphasizing that the survivors play a pivotal role in the movie's making.

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Unlike Alive, which presented a dramatized version in English, Society of the Snow is a fully Spanish production, utilizing the perspectives of the survivors to narrate their experiences.


Reception and critical acclaim

The film was the closing feature of the 80th Venice International Film Festival, with its world premiere being an out-of-competition screening at the Palazzo del Cinema on September 9, 2023, following the festival's awards ceremony.

It gained recognition by being chosen to screen in the Perlak section at the 71st San Sebastián International Film Festival and the film was presented in the Out of Competition section at the 56th Sitges Film Festival and the 2023 AFI Fest.

An official Spanish theatrical release was also confirmed for December 15, 2023. As for its reception, Rotten Tomatoes reports positive feedback from 95% of 20 critics, with an average rating of 8.1/10.

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Society of the Snow emerges as a poignant and authentic portrayal of the 1972 Andes flight disaster. Rooted in the survivors' firsthand accounts and based on Pablo Vierci's meticulously researched book, the film offers a unique perspective on the Miracle of the Andes.

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Edited by Prem Deshpande