The snow society: Bayonne against Hollywood (****)

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“Everything was so disrupted that the rational intersected with the impossible and reality was surpassed by utopia.” The phrase is from Roberto Canessa, the group’s doctor, and, in his own way, his words strive not so much to define the situation suffered, but perhaps also, as to narrate its most intimate impossibility. How to describe the indescribable? How to find the word for what truly has no name? Everything that happened in the 72 days preceding December 22, 1972, in reality, cannot possibly have ever happened. That 16 of the 45 passengers of the plane that, on the way to Santiago de Chile from Montevideo, crashed in the Andes, a white and lifeless place, survived, was simply unfeasible. Maybe a miracle, but neither. A miracle has rules that basically consist of breaking logic and faith; A miracle requires faith. And therefore, a miracle has a narrative and, in its own way, meaning. What happened in the Valley of Tears remains unspeakable. And not only because the taboo of anthropophagy was broken and those who did it survived by feeding on the bodies of their companions, but because it is simply incredible, a story without a story.

‘The Snow Society’ part of its most intimate impossibility as a challenge and even as a provocation. Juan Antonio Bayona is close to the story told a thousand times and already a milestone of popular culture (just look at thinking about the series ‘Yellowjackets‘) determined not so much to construct a standard narrative as to turn the incredible, its most intimate impossibility, into the film’s own plot. Unlike the most famous version of the accident –They live!, Frank Marshall’s 1993 film – the idea now is neither to romanticize the adventure nor to reconstruct the hero’s soul; now, the voice is taken by those who survived next to the dead for all together, in an undoubtedly risky exercise, to pause on the spiritual journey of reconciliation, forgiveness and, in its most radical sense, communion.

Not in vain, and against the usual and habitual reading ‘hollywood‘, the story of the Andes contravenes everything we have been told so far about the future of a group of harassed men.’Lord of the Flies‘ by William Golding, as a prototypical story, made it clear to us long ago that the struggle for life is a matter of the individual and is resolved in the war of power that ends up determining a hierarchical order of survival. None of that happened there. None of this succeeds in finding the distant credibility of the story.

Bayona’s strategy in this film largely consists of refute Bayona himself. Until now, all of the cinema by the author of ‘The Impossible’ (of which this film is a reflection) had been driven by the conviction, let’s call it that, of empathy. The viewer was almost forced in a somewhat abrupt way to slip into the skin of each of the characters until far beyond the emotion. Fiction is there, in the director’s ideology, as a tool to bypass the Ortega impossibility of grieving for another’s toothache. In this case, everything is much more nuanced, mature, calculated and, perhaps, distant. It is, of course, about being with the suffering of the characters, but doing so from a healthy and even spiritual respect. What is sought is to take charge of the exact limit of the impossibility of an event, as has already been said, unspeakable.

‘The Snow Society’ It could be described as an eminently physical, tactile film. The careful photography of an icy blue of Pedro Luque, The taste for detail is impressive in the meticulous reconstruction of the detail by a prodigious art direction and one likes something less, that is, the omnipresent and larger than life beautiful music of Michael Giacchino. The camera accompanies each of the characters, respecting the hunger, the cold, the pain. Everything hurts. It is not about telling a story of supermen, but of defenseless people who in their complete helplessness found the key to their true greatness, which is also the greatest of trifles. And for this reason, the story fights against itself in its will to simultaneously revere the facts and maintain amazement at an event that could not be.

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