Society of the Snow: The survival story of the 1972 flight disaster

Warning: This post might contain revealing details about the movie "Society of the Snow". Proceed with caution if you haven't watched it yet.

In 1972, the Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 crashed, and 16 members of the Uruguayan Rugby team and support staff faced a harrowing ordeal. Stranded in the world’s harshest environments, they battled extreme conditions for 72 days for their survival.

(L) Roy Harley, Carlos Paez (Survivors) (R) Survivor Roberto Canessa assisting a Chilean policeman in the rescue effort on December 23, 1972. (Survivor photos by EITAN ABRAMOVICH/AFP via Getty Images)

Even now, the question lingers: does their resilience and resourcefulness in that dire time truly reveal the strength of the human spirit, or does it suggest something else entirely? The debate persists, shrouded in an air of shock and suspense, leaving us to ponder the true essence of their endurance and resourcefulness during that harrowing ordeal.

True story behind the Survival

In 1972, the rugby team’s fateful journey turned into a living nightmare as their plane crashed in the unforgiving Andes. Facing treacherous conditions, the survivors confronted unimaginable challenges, including extreme cold, high altitudes, and the stark reality that rescue might not come. Isolated from civilization, their struggle for survival unfolded amidst the vast, snow-covered landscape.

Credit: NBC News

The story takes a gripping turn as the survivors grapple with the immediate need for food, resorting to desperate measures, like cannibalism, to endure the harsh conditions. This tragic chapter in their lives serves as a testament to the resilience of the human spirit when pushed to its limits, setting the stage for an extraordinary tale of survival against all odds.

Life after Survival

In 2024, only 14 out of the original 16 survivors remain. Javier Methol, the oldest survivor at 36 during the 1972 crash, battled cancer until his passing in 2015, marking almost 43 years of survival post the tragic incident.

José Luis “Coche” Inciarte, who succumbed to cancer in 2023, lived for 51 years after the crash. Prior to his passing, he had the opportunity to preview an early version of “Society of the Snow,” as confirmed by J.A. Bayona to the Spanish newspaper El País. Today, the 16 survivors form a tight-knit community. Every December 22, the anniversary of their rescue, they come together for a barbecue.

Several survivors documented their ordeal in books, including titles like Nando Parrado’s “Miracle in the Andes: 72 Days on the Mountain and My Long Trek Home“, Roberto Canessa’s “I Had to Survive: How a Plane Crash in the Andes Inspired My Calling to Save Lives“, Eduardo Strauch’s “Out of the Silence: After the Crash” and Carlos Páez Rodríguez’s “Carlitos Páez: After the Tenth Day“.

Retelling the Tale: Movie Unveils Horror and Triumph

The tragic story has been recounted in various forms, from TV shows like “Seinfeld” to films like the 1993 narrative “Alive” with Ethan Hawke, documentaries, plays, and the Emmy-nominated “Yellowjackets.”

Wikimedia Commons Roberto Canessa, Fernando Parrado e Carlos Paez Rodriguez alla premiere del film “La sociedad de la neve” a Venezia nel 2023

Despite previous attempts, there was always a sense of something missing. “Society of the Snow” by Vierci, however, filled that gap. Director Bayona aimed not only to present a dramatic interpretation of the tragedy but also to pay homage to the survivors, victims, and their Uruguayan culture. Vierci’s book, more reflective than action-oriented, significantly contributed to understanding the characters, according to Bayona. Vierci is also an associate producer on the film.


Bayona’s film seeks to honor the story and strays away from glamorizing or sensationalizing the horrors the passengers and crew members endured. Beyond speaking to the survivors, victims’ loved ones and visiting the crash site, he wove in Candombe Uruguayan music at high points of tension and added Turcatti’s favorite song from a popular Uruguayan band into one of the film’s early blissful scenes.

To know more about how “Society of the Snow” is a different edition to the past many releases, click here

“Society of the Snow” premiered on Netflix on January 4, 2024.

Also read, Most Anticipated Netflix Shows and Movies to Watch Out for in 2024

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