The Harrowing True Story Behind Netflix’s Society Of The Snow

By Olivia Emily

6 months ago

This thriller is tragically real


Society of the Snow launched on Netflix on 4 January 2024 – and it’s pretty haunting. Based on a horribly true disaster that occurred in 1972, here we delve into the real story behind the film.

Society Of The Snow: The Real Story Behind Netflix’s New Movie

Society of the Snow

© Netflix

What Is Society Of The Snow?

Society of the Snow is a Spanish language film telling the real story of the ‘Andes flight disaster’ (Tragedia de los Andes) – also known as the ‘Miracle of the Andes’ (‘Milagro de los Andes’) – which saw Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 crash into the Andes mountains on October 13, 1972. It is based on Pablo Vierci’s book of the same name, which documents the account of each of the 16 survivors of the crash.

The Real Story

Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 was on a journey from Montevideo in Uruguay to Santiago in Chile, and was carrying 45 passengers and crew, including 19 members of the Old Christians Club rugby team with their families, supporters and friends. The crash occurred when the inexperienced co-pilot, Lieutenant-Colonel Dante Héctor Lagurara, mistakenly believed the plane had passed over Curicó, beginning his descent into Santiago’s Pudahuel Airport far too soon. The aircraft subsequently struck a mountain ridge, losing both its wings and its tale cone before sliding down a glacier at approximately 220 mph, falling 2,379 ft before ramming into an ice and snow mound in a remote area just east of the border between Chile and Argentina.

Society of the Snow

© Netflix

Three crew members (including the lead pilot) and nine passengers died immediately, meaning 33 people survived the actual crash. Sadly, four more people (including co-pilot Lagurara) died of their injuries soon after. Authorities flew over the area several times in the days following the crash and – while the survivors had scrawled ‘SOS’ on the jagged remains of the plane using lipstick scavenged from the luggage – they failed to make out the white plane against the snow; the search was called off eight days later.

The remaining 29 survivors faced extreme hardships in the meantime, including exposure (with nighttime temperatures plummeting to -30°C) and starvation, as well as being pummelled by several avalanches, leading to the deaths of 13 more passengers. Tragically, when the passengers found and recovered a radio from the aeroplane, fashioning an antenna using electrical wire, they heard a radio report that the search for the plane crash had been called off. With a lack of food, the remaining survivors resorted to cannibalism.

As Roberto Canessa later wrote in his book I Had To Survive:

Our common goal was to survive, but what we lacked was food. We had long since run out of the meager pickings we’d found on the plane, and there was no vegetation or animal life to be found. After just a few days, we had the sensation that our own bodies were consuming themselves just to remain alive. Before long we would become too weak to recover from starvation.

We knew the answer, but the answer was just too terrifying to contemplate.

The bodies of our friends and team-mates preserved outside in the snow and ice contained the vital, life-preserving proteins that would keep us alive. But could we do it? For a long time we agonized. I went out in the snow and prayed to God for guidance. Without His consent, I felt I would be violating the memory of my friends, that I would be stealing their souls.

We wondered whether we were going mad to even contemplate such a deed. Had we turned into brute savages? Or was this the only alternative for us to survive? Truly, we were pushing the limits of our fear.

Society of the Snow

LA SOCIEDAD DE LA NIEVE (L to R) AGUSTIN DELLA CORTE as TINTIN in LA SOCIEDAD DE LA NIEVE. Cr. QUIM VIVES/NETFLIX © 2022

When the weather improved, easing into late spring, two surviving university students – Canessa with Nando Parrado – left camp and embarked on a gruelling hike for 10 days (travelling 38 miles) to Chile to seek help. On 23 December 1972, more than two months after the crash, the remaining 14 survivors left in the plane were rescued.

The Film

The film has been in the works since director J. A. Bayona discovered Pablo Vierci’s book, Society of the Snow, while researching for his 2012 tsunami survival film, The Impossible. When he finished The Impossible, Bayona bought the film rights for Vierci’s book and got to work. He and his team recorded more than 100 hours of interviews with the crash’s living survivors in preparation for the film, and the actors had contact with the survivors and the victims’ families, too.

Society of the Snow

© Netflix

Who Stars?

There is a large cast of actors, all portraying real people. Notably, crash survivor Carlos ‘Carlitos’ Páez stars in the film, playing the role of his father, Carlos Páez Vilaró.

  • Enzo Vogrincic Roldán as Numa Turcatti
  • Matías Recalt as Roberto Canessa
  • Agustín Pardella as Nando Parrado
  • Tomas Wolf as Gustavo Zerbino
  • Diego Vegezzi as Marcelo Pérez del Castillo
  • Esteban Kukuriczka as Adolfo “Fito” Strauch
  • Francisco Romero as Daniel Fernández Strauch
  • Rafael Federman as Eduardo Strauch
  • Felipe González Otaño as Carlitos Páez
  • Agustín Della Corte as Antonio “Tintín” Vizintín
  • Valentino Alonso as Alfredo “Pancho” Delgado
  • Simón Hempe as José Luis “Coche” Inciarte
  • Fernando Contigiani García as Arturo Nogueira
  • Benjamín Segura as Rafael “el Vasco” Echavarren
  • Rocco Posca as Ramón “Moncho” Sabella
  • Luciano Chatton as Pedro Algorta
  • Agustín Berruti as Bobby François
  • Juan Caruso as Álvaro Mangino
  • Andy Pruss as Roy Harley
  • Santiago Vaca Narvaja as Daniel Maspons
  • Esteban Bigliardi as Javier Methol
  • Paula Baldini as Liliana Methol
  • Federico Aznarez as Enrique Platero
  • Alfonsina Carrocio as Susana Parrado
  • Silvia Giselle Pereyra as Eugenia Parrado
  • Virginia Kaufmann as Esther Nicola
  • Felipe Ramusio as Diego Storm
  • Blas Polidori as Gustavo Nicolich
  • Emanuel Parga as Carlos Roque
  • Iair Said as Julio César Ferradas, the pilot
  • Louta as Gastón Costemalle
  • Maximiliano de la Cruz as Dante Lagurara, the co-pilot
Society of the Snow

© Netflix

Where Was Society Of The Snow Filmed?

Society of the Snow was filmed in Sierra Nevada in Spain from 10 January–29 April 2022. Additional filming took place in Uruguay, with shots of landscapes filmed in Chile and the Andes. Most of the snow is artificial or added in post-production.

WATCH

Society of the Snow is streaming exclusively on Netflix. netflix.com