Alive (1993 film)

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Directed by Frank Marshall
Produced by Kathleen Kennedy
Robert Watts
Screenplay by John Patrick Shanley
Based on Novel:
Piers Paul Read
Narrated by John Malkovich
Starring Ethan Hawke
Vincent Spano
Josh Hamilton
Music by James Newton Howard
Cinematography Peter James
Editing by Michael Kahn
William Goldenberg
Studio The Kennedy/Marshall Company
Cinema International Corporation
Distributed by USA/Canada
Touchstone Pictures
Buena Vista Pictures Distribution, Inc.
Paramount Pictures
United International Pictures
Release date(s) January 15, 1993
Running time 127 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $32 million[1]
Box office $36,733,909 (USA)[2]

Alive is a 1993 American biographical survival drama film based upon Piers Paul Read‘s 1974 book Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors, which details the story of a Uruguayan rugby team who were involved in the crash of Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571, which crashed into the Andes mountains on October 13, 1972.

The film was directed by Frank Marshall and narrated by John Malkovich. One of the survivors, Nando Parrado (portrayed by Ethan Hawke in the film), served as the technical advisor for the film. The film starred Ethan HawkeVincent Spano and Josh Hamilton.


The film opens with a series of photographs of the Stella Maris College‘s Old Christians Rugby Team. Carlitos Páez explains that the pictures were taken by his father and points out several members of the team, including himself as a young man, Alex Morales, Felipe Restano, Nando Parradoand the team’s Captain Antonio Balbi. Carlitos then reflects on the accident in a brief monologue, speaking of heroism, the gravity of the situation and of solitude and faith.

The story moves to October 13, 1972 as Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 flies over the Andes. The raucous rugby players and a few of their relatives and friends are eagerly looking forward to the upcoming match in Chile. Nando’s sister, Susana, praises the beauty of the mountains and happily observes that the plane will be landing in 20 minutes.

However, after emerging from clouds, the plane encounters turbulence and collides with an unknown mountain peak. During the collision, the wing and tail are separated from the fuselage of the plane, and the remnants of the fuselage slide down a mountain slope before coming to a complete stop. Antonio, the team captain, takes charge of the situation, co-ordinating efforts to help his injured teammates. Roberto Canessa and Gustavo Zerbino, both medical students, are the first to address the injured. Six passengers and one flight attendant are killed when they are ejected from the plane, and another six die shortly afterward including both pilots, Alex, Nando’s mom Eugenia, and an older couple. Nando, who sustained a head injury, falls into a coma and Susana suffers harsh internal injuries.

As the sun sets, the survivors begin to make preparations for the night. Canessa discovers that the seat covers can be unzipped and used as blankets. The survivors go inside the fuselage and curl up beside one another to stay warm. Antonio, Roy Harley and Rafael Cano plug the gaping hole at the end of the fuselage with luggage to keep the wind out. Two passengers die during the night from their injuries including Mrs. Alfonsín, causing Carlitos to feel ashamed after earlier yelling at her as she moaned about the pain she had been experiencing. With nothing to hunt or gather on the mountain, Antonio declares they will use rationing when the survivors find a tin of chocolates and a case of wine. After seeing a plane dip its wing, the survivors celebrate. Expecting to be rescued the next day, everyone except Javier, his wife Liliana, and Antonio eat the remaining chocolates.

The survivors listen to a radio for word of their rescue but are devastated to hear the search is called off after day nine. This causes a quarrel between Antonio and several others for eating the chocolate. Meanwhile, Nando regains consciousness through the care of Carlitos and Hugo Diaz. After learning of his mother’s death, Nando watches over Susana vigilantly. Knowing that she will die of her injuries within a few days, he vows to set off on foot and find a way out of the mountains. When Carlitos reminds him that he will need food, Nando suggests consuming flesh from the corpses of the deceased Pilots to survive his journey to find help. Susana dies from her injuries.

After great debate, the remaining passengers decide to eat the flesh of their dead companions in order to survive. Zerbino, Rafael and Juan Martino set off to search for the tail of the plane in hopes of finding the batteries for the plane’s radio to transmit their location. Among pieces of the wreckage, the teammates find additional corpses, but return to the group with news that the tail of the plane is likely a little farther away. Later in the week, an avalanche hits the plane and floods the interior with snow. Most manage to climb out of the snow, but some are unable to escape; eight of the remaining survivors are smothered by the snow or freeze to death, including Antonio, Liliana and Juan; Liliana was the final of the five women aboard to die. A second team, made up of Nando, Canessa and Antonio “Tintin” Vizintin, finds the tail of the plane. Unable to bring the batteries to the fuselage, they return to the fuselage to get Roy, who is rumoured to have experience setting up electrical equipment. They bring him to the tail of the plane, where the batteries are, to see if he can fix the radio. When Roy is unsuccessful, the team returns to the fuselage once more.

Federico Aranda and Alberto Antuna die from their injuries soon after and Rafael soon dies after from an illness, leading Nando to convince a reluctant Canessa to search for a way out of the mountains, taking “Tintin” with them. Two days into the journey, they send “Tintin” back to the fuselage so they can appropriate his rations and continue on. After a 12-day trek, the two escape the mountains and alert the authorities of their companions’ location. As helicopters land on the glacier, the other 14 survivors celebrate.

The film then shifts to the present as Carlitos explains the survivors later returned to the site of the crash and buried the bodies of the dead under a pile of stones, marked with a cross, about half a mile away. The memorial is then displayed with the film’s dedication to both the 29 deceased and 16 survivors.

ethan hawke: he starred in "alive" and delivered a poweful line in the film- "we must keepn on walking..." that haunted this blogger's mind for over the years.
ethan hawke: he starred in “alive” and delivered a poweful line in the film- “we must keep on walking…” that haunted this blogger’s mind for over the years.