Monday, October 20, 2008

Stranded review

I posted a new movie review over at dotCommonweal. A sample:
In October 1972, a plane carrying 49 passengers, many of them members of a young men’s rugby team, ran into a snowstorm on its way from Uruguay to Chile and crashed in the Andes mountains. You know what happened next.

Except, of course, you probably don’t know much about what happened next. I certainly didn’t know how many died and how many survived. I didn’t know how long they were lost or what became of them afterward. And although I could have guessed, I didn’t realize the people involved were Catholics. For most of us, this tragedy, this miracle, has been reduced to a grisly horror story: the men who became cannibals in the mountains.

Now, thirty-six years later, a new documentary, clumsy titled Stranded: I’ve Come From a Plane That Crashed on the Mountains, tells the whole remarkable story—not by rehashing exploitative media accounts, but by compiling the memories of the men who lived through it. Interviews with the survivors (in Spanish, with English subtitles) make up the narration. Their ordeal is reenacted, tastefully, in haunting footage modeled on the few ghostly photos taken after the crash and before the rescue. And the whole story is framed by a reunion of the men, now about fifty years old, who travel back to the site of the crash with their children. The structure can be confusing at first—explanatory signposts are few—but the result is a thoughtful, reflective film that doesn’t work too hard to shape your reaction to the story.
Read the rest here. And go here to find out whether the movie will be playing near you. (New Yorkers: it's at Film Forum starting this week.) I recommend it!

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