The Harrowing True Story Behind Netflix’s Society of the Snow

The Harrowing True Story Behind Netflix’s <em>Society of the Snow</em>

Netflix’s new film, Society of the Snow, is based on—like about half of Netflix’s cinematic offerings nowadays—a true story. The movie is inspired by Flight 571, a plane that crashed in 1972, leaving a Uruguayan rugby team stranded in the Andes Mountains. Without food or water available, they resorted to cannibalism for survival. If this sounds familiar, you might remember a different adaptation of the story: 1993’s Alive, which starred Ethan Hawke. Now, the harrowing tale has been recreated with Spanish-speaking actors. Among the cast is Carlitos Páez, who plays his father, Carlos Páez Vilaró, in the film.

Society of the Snow, which is directed by J. A. Bayona (The Impossible), is based on Pablo Vierci’s book of the same name. The film adaptation premiered in Spain on December 15. A week later, the movie was distributed to America, landing in theaters on December 22. Now, Society of the Snow is finally available to stream on Netflix. Since its release, the film has even generated some awards buzz, earning a nomination for Best Foreign Language Film at the Golden Globes.

If you want to learn more about the true story behind Society of the Snow, keep reading foreverything we know about the crash and what happened to the rugby team.

Who Was on Flight 571?

Flight 571 had 45 people on board, aside from the pilot and crew. The bulk of the passengers were members of a Christian Club rugby team, who were traveling from Montevideo Uruguay to Santiago, Chile for a game. The remaining travelers included the player’s family and friends, and one woman who was on her way to her daughter’s wedding.

Why Did Flight 571 Crash?

A multitude of errors led to the crash. First, the plane was ill-equipped to make the journey, due to its altitude limit and weak engine. It didn’t help that they were flying through rough conditions, too. Upon reflection, one of the survivors, Nando Parrado, told The Guardian that he and his teammates shouldn’t have boarded the plane. “A Fairchild FH-227D, very underpowered engines, full of people, completely loaded, flying over the highest mountains in South America, in bad weather,” he said. “I mean, no way.”

The next problem was the route. Because of the weather, the pilot had to land early in Mendoza, Argentina. Their bad luck continued when they realized they couldn’t stay in the country. The aircraft was leased from the Uruguayan Air Force and couldn’t legally remain in Argentina for 24 hours. Despite heavy winds, the aircraft took off again. While charting a new route to Santiago, the pilot realized he couldn’t fly directly to the area without going over the Andes Mountains, which were too high to pass through safely. Instead, he chose to fly over the Planchon Pass, which was at a lower altitude. About an hour into the flight, the pilot thought he’d made it to Curicó, Chile and alerted flight controllers that he arrived at the destination. They didn’t realize he was wrong, approving his request to land. When the plane descended, it crashed directly into the Andes, splitting the aircraft apart.

The impact tore off the plane’s tail and wings, leaving just the fuselage behind. Twelve people died from the impact, while others suffered life-threatening injuries.

a group of people on a snowy mountain

The fuselage after the crash.


What Happened After Flight 571 Crashed?

After the crash, the survivors turned the fuselage into a shelter, using suitcases, clothing, and seats to create a wall that prevented snow from entering the enclosure. For a while, they were able to survive with the snacks they found on board, which reportedly included chocolate, candy, nuts, crackers, and alcohol.

…. to be continued
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