October 22, 2008

Stranded: I've Come From a Plane That Crashed on the Mountains.

Stranded: I've Come From a Plane That Crashed on the Mountains "Because the story has already been told in Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors, the 1974 best seller by Piers Paul Read, and retold in its 1993 screen adaptation starring Ethan Hawke, why again?" asks Stephen Holden in the New York Times. "The short answer is that in Stranded, all 16 of the survivors, now middle-aged, tell the story in their own words. Since many of those words are eloquent, the assumption must be that their thoughts and impressions are the distillate of years of contemplation."

"The film is an awkward amalgam of talking head interviews, recreations, and original footage of the survivors' reunion with their families at the site of the tragedy, and while certain moments are memorable in their poignancy and mysteriousness, Stranded mostly achieves a flat, dull, and too-conventional depiction of its fascinating subject," writes Michael Joshua Rowin at indieWIRE. "Stranded proves that even the most epic, otherworldly survival story can be made boring."

Updated through 10/25.

Director Gonzalo Arijón "hardly glosses over the cannibalism, but his focus is instead on the spiritual fortitude and feelings of holy communion that allowed these Catholics to carry on for ten weeks under the most despairing of circumstances," notes Benjamin Strong in the L Magazine. "At its best, Stranded embraces the contradictions that make this story about the will to live both a tragedy and a triumph."

"Stranded is the rare movie less complex and interesting than its press kit," writes Vadim Rizov in the Voice.

Updates: "Mr Arijon is a respectful chronicler and tastefully stays away from the sensational aspects of the story; he concentrates on the survivors' feelings of guilt and on their current families (many of whom traveled to the crash site, too)." Sara Vilkomerson in the New York Observer: "By the time the film gets to the inevitable eating of the bodies of the crash and avalanche victims, all of the 16 struggle to put into words their feelings, and in the grand scope of the horrors they endured, this small piece of the retelling is much less important than their struggle to understand why they survived when others didn't."

"The film's care in telling the story... produces a real sense of condemnation for the invasiveness of the media after the survivors return," notes Micah Towery in Slant. "It highlights the abnormal intrusion of it all, that reporters would act as a social police who also thrive on the giddiness of sensationalizing the survivors' plight."

"[W]hat these men recount is nothing less than a Herzog-worthy Rescue Dawn-esque journey - just when you think you’re saved the next circle of hell opens," writes Lauren Wissot at the House Next Door.

Update, 10/23: "[I]ntimate, terrifying and positively riveting," writes Salon's Andrew O'Hehir. "One way of explaining Stranded is that Arijón's after not just the objective facts of what happened and when, which are dramatic enough, but also the subjective reality, the psychological and physiological desolation of the experience."

Update, 10/24: This is "the definitive version" of the tale, argues Noel Murray at the AV Club. "Stranded pays the proper respect to those who didn't make it, by focusing on the generations spawned by those who did."

Update, 10/25: Online viewing tip. FilmCatcher talks with Arijon.

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Posted by dwhudson at October 22, 2008 6:15 AM


How odd the disconnect between audiences and critics. At the San Francisco International, this film had some of the most emotional clout of any. People couldn't stop talking about it. It even won audience favorite.

Posted by: Maya at October 22, 2008 8:42 AM

"Stranded: I've come from a plane...."

I am eager to see this film. Anyone who read Nando Parrado's "Miracle in the Andes" could ever forget that amazing story of survival. When I got to the part in the book where Nando writes those words, "I've come from a plane that crashed in the mountains," I burst into tears. He wrote those words and tied the paper to a rock and flung it across a river to reach the herdsman who went immediately for help. That book changed my life.

Posted by: Barbara at October 22, 2008 9:57 AM