I Am Alive: Surviving The Andes Plane Crash – DVD Review

In 1972 a plane carrying 45 rugby players crashed in the Andes mountains. Only 16 survived. Over the course of 72 days the survivors did whatever they could to survive, even resorting to cannibalism.

If not for that, we probably wouldn’t remember the survivors. Cannibalism is the ultimate taboo, greater even than incest, and anyone that engages in the practice becomes the object of much fascination and disgust.

However, to label the survivors as cannibals is a misnomer. Cannibalism is a cultural practice where certain religious and spiritual significance is placed on the eating of human flesh. What the survivors did is more accurately called “anthropophagy” which is the eating of human flesh without the religious and spiritual significance. It may seem like splitting hairs, but ask any of the survivors and they’ll tell you that they’d much prefer to be called anthropophage rather than cannibal.

It’s easy to armchair quarterback from the comfort of your living room. It’s easy to say that you’d never resort to anthropophagy. But you never really know what you’ll do in an extreme situation like that until you’re in it, and that’s one of the main points of I Am Alive. It’s a story of survival and a justification for surviving.

The special is told from the point of view of survivor Nando Parrado and it features new, high-resolution photos shot by the survivors, footage from the crash site, and dramatic recreations of key moments. Together these elements combine to make a powerful tale of survival; one that puts you there with the people as they consider the unthinkable.

I Am Alive is a moving, sober look at an incredible moment of human will. It shows just how deep the human desire to live runs in all of us, and the preciousness of life.

The DVD is presented in fullscreen with the audio in Dolby Digital stereo. There were no problems with either the audio or the video.

There are quite a few extra features here, the most interesting for me being the Return to the Valley of Tears. Mostly these just highlight what was already said and shown in the feature, so they don’t add too terribly much to the overall experience.

Return to the Valley of Tears

Nando Parrado Today

Traces of Tragedy: Artifacts from the Andes Plane Crash

Behind-the-Scenes of I Am Alive: Surviving the Andes Plane Crash

Extended Inteviews wit Roberto & Laura Canessa, Graciela Parrado, Jose Luis Nicola, and Brother Eamon O’Donnell

Original Photo Slideshows

I Am Alive is an incredible story of survival, but it’s not for the faint of heart. Given the heavy nature of the subject matter I can’t really recommend this to buy, but it is definitely worth a watch. Keep an eye out for The History Channel to rerun it, or get it through Netflix, but either way check it out.


A&E Television Networks presents I Am Alive: Surviving the Andes Plane Crash. Directed by: Brad Osborne. Written by: Brad Osborne. Running time: 98 minutes. Rating: NR. Released on DVD: February 22, 2011.


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