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Stranded (DVD Review)

23 Apr, 2009 By: John Latchem

Street 4/28/09
Box Office $0.09 million
$29.99 DVD
Not rated
In Spanish with English subtitles.

Given the morbidity of the story of Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571, it almost seems like an urban legend.

In October 1972, on Friday the 13th, a plane carrying the Uruguayan rugby team to Chile crashed in the Andes Mountains. The part everyone knows is that the survivors ate the flesh of the dead passengers, in some cases their best friends, while awaiting a rescue that would eventually come two months later.

The event was chronicled in the 1973 book Alive, which in turn was adapted into a film of the same name in 1993, starring Ethan Hawke.

But while it’s one thing to hear descriptions of the ordeal, it’s quite another to hear the story directly from those who lived through it. Stranded catches up with the survivors today as they look back at the incident and wonder why fate chose them to survive the ordeal. The obvious lesson is to not take life for granted.

Director Gonzalo Arijón, a childhood friend of the survivors, shows a deft hand combining the riveting interview footage with stunning photography and re-creations of the events surrounding the crash. Some of the footage includes actual photos taken during the flight.

But Arijón takes it to the next level by having the survivors return to the crash site, known as the Valley of Tears, where pieces of the plane remain scattered across the landscape. As they reflect on the events that forever changed their lives, one look at their eyes betrays how much the experience continues to haunt them.

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