Because of a notorious dietary choice, the Uruguayan rugby players whose plane crashed in the Andes in 1972, and who miraculously survived 72 days before rescue without adequate shelter or supplies, will forever have a vaunted place in air disaster history. Their decision to feed on the bodies of some of the crash victims rather than starve to death has led to sensational headlines, two books and several films.
In the latest documentary on the subject, Stranded, filmmaker Gonzalo Arijon recognizes that no added sensationalism is needed. There's a genuinely gripping and moving story in the basic facts, which are recounted with unusual candor 35 years later by the survivors, while visiting the mountains that nearly killed them.
Combining their first-person recollections with those of the parents who searched for the wreckage, archival news footage, reenactments that are far more impressionistic than gruesome and the near-constant presence of those potentially deadly, snow-capped peaks, Arijon occasionally muddies the timeline, but gives as true a sense of the horror of the ordeal as a documentary can provide.
Beyond the screen, there's only one obvious way to get a better understanding of the tragedy, and none of us want to go there.