Sunday, January 07, 2024

La Sociedad de la Nieve / The Society of the Snow (2023)

A 7.9 on IMDB compared to the long-standing 7.1 of Alive.

Is it really an upgrade? Perhaps for native Spanish speakers. But beyond that undoubtedly important element, it's rather a mixed bag.


Director J.A. Bayona (El Orfanato) has told the same story from a different source: the book by Uruguayan journalist Pablo Vierci which, unlike Piers Paul Read's book, I have not read. 

Some of the emphases are different, most notably on the matter of how religious belief played a role in the decisions taken by these men (in the end...) stuck up in the Andes for 70+days. 

Here the 'altar boy' Numa is shown objecting at first to the new source of protein. Yet Piers Paul Read, a Catholic writer, was obviously fascinated how this resort to the flesh of man was interpreted by some of the participants in terms of the Doctrine of Transubstantiation. 

This story has long gripped us. I first heard it from my wife before the earlier film appeared in 1993. I found myself asking the other night if, as the credits rolled (actually this was Netflix, so they didn't), I would have immediately commenced a deeper dive into the material, as I did then. 

It made me think of that far shorter interval between Victory at Entebbe and Raid on Entebbe. Perhaps there are better examples of a 'remarkable true story' told in slightly different ways which I can't think of right now.

Overall I reached the conclusion that Bayona's take on the story was not as good specifically in that area of storytelling, dialogue too, but in the key moments, especially those where the action is doing the talking, his film does take things up a notch. You'd almost want to go back and apply the best takes of this film to the one made 30 years ago before considering the reverse procedure. 

There's a bit more backstory here, yet it does not seem to help in terms of differentiating the pack of survivors.

Unlike the last film I reviewed, the attempt to deliver the drama with a seventies patina seems a bit superfluous. 

Perhaps the most interesting difference is that I took Alive to be an accurate representation of what really happened up there, but was left pondering here if I had just seen the version that the survivors had all agreed to present to posterity as the truth.

Spot the spine…

I suspect that subtle hint of ambiguity, those barely perceptible whispers of the unsaid*, may be the deliberate contribution of the director.



 * Like, if they could light their cigarettes, they could light other things, like a churrasco...



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