ALIVE (1993) 

Ethan Hawke
Vincent Spano
Josh Hamilton
Bruce Ramsey
John Haymes Newton
David Kriegel
Kevin Breznahan
Sam Behrens
Illeana Douglas
Josh Lucas

Frank Marshall




Time: 121 mins.
Rating: R
Genre: Drama

SYNOPSIS: After their plane crashes, a Uruguayan rugby team is stranded in the snow swept Andes and forced to use desperate measures to survive.

BOTTOM LINE: For most people, the idea of sitting through a movie about people being forced to eat one another while trying not to freeze to death is not an appealing way to spend two hours of your life. I remember being somewhat nervous myself when I went to see this film in the theater. It's definitely not one to take in lightly after a big dinner.

Since this is based on a true story, the cannibalism is essential to the plot and therefore not something merely thrown in for controversy. Thankfully, though it is a part of this story, not the main focus and is dealt with in an appropriate and honorable manner. The survivors are not proud of the depths they stoop to, but their dilemma unfolds in a way that makes you wonder what you would do yourself in the same situation.

We don't really get to know the characters very well before the disaster takes place. Since many of them don't survive the initial crash, the film waits until they are stranded on the mountain to begin to develop the different characters. The actual plane crash is fiercely disturbing, so if you're afraid of flying this will not help ease your worries. After the initial shock and realization that they are way off track and not likely to be rescued, the drama picks up in intensity quickly. The unending cold practically permeates off the screen. In an impossible situation, in the middle of the Andes Mountains, with no real food or shelter, they are forced into the unthinkable when they run out of all other options except death themselves.

It's a film you can't help but be moved by despite the topic. Hawke, Spano and Hamilton give their very best, making their characters believable, honest and heroic without ever overacting. What they endure is beyond comprehension. This could not have been an easy film to shoot and they plays into their exhaustion and performances. I don't think I could have survived that long in the bitter cold. I moved to Los Angeles for a reason. This isn't a movie I would rush out and see, but if you're in the mood for a dose of reality with your cinema fare, this is a well-constructed and poignant film.

"Do you know what it is that we've lived this long the way we have? Seventy days? It's impossible. It's impossible and we did it. I'm proud to be a man on a day like this. Alive."

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