Alive is the true story of the 1972 Uruguayan plane crash, where a rugby team, along with friends and family, boarded a plane to neighbouring Chile for a game. Out of the 45 who took that journey only 16 returned. For an entire 72 days the living stared death in the face and were forced to feed off the bodies of those who had been killed in order to survive.

Director Frank Marshall manages to capture the terrifying beauty of the Andes, with the sun glistening off the untouched snow, and Ethan Hawke is breathtaking as the intrepid hero, Nando, who, after losing his mother and sister to the mountain, risks life and limb to climb to freedom and help his fellow passengers escape.

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Alive begins with the spectacular flight over the Andes, which becomes rather short due to pilot error. What follows are wonderfully realistic scenes of parts of the plane coming away from the main body and passengers being blown away while still in their seats. Here begins the traumatic survival in high, frosty peaks in the middle of nowhere.

The rather floppy-haired Ethan is one of the driving forces within the movie, for the survivors as well as the audience. He comes across as a superhero with unbeatable attitude and physical strength in keeping people going, summarised by the quote: "I'm proud to be a man on a day like this - alive!"

This has to be one of the most exciting "based upon true events" films ever as the survivors deal with one crisis after another. How they come through is astonishing and easily forgotten while watching the movie, until John Malkovich's nasal tones remind the audience at the end that these people were real, as was their courage.

Naturally, Alive caused controversy upon its original release, due to the graphic scenes of cannibalism, including a set piece where a close-up shows a survivor cutting the flesh off an ex-passenger's backside. However cringe-worthy this may seem, it is definitely worth putting up with to see how these people finally escape from their nightmare holiday.

Reviewed on: 06 Jun 2002
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Sixteen people survive torturous conditions stranded in the Andes for 72 days where they are forced to eat the bodies of their dead friends in order to survive.
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Director: Frank Marshall

Writer: John Patrick Shanley based on the book by Piers Paul Read

Starring: Ethan Hawke, Vincent Spano, Josh Hamilton, Bruce Ramsay, John Haymes Newton, David Kriegel

Year: 1992

Runtime: 121 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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