Alive (1993 film)

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Alive (1993 Film)

“Alive,” a gripping 1993 American biographical survival drama, is a cinematic adaptation of Piers Paul Read’s remarkable 1974 book, “Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors.” This compelling film recounts the harrowing experience of a Uruguayan rugby team whose plane, Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571, crashed into the Andes mountains on October 13, 1972.

Directed by Frank Marshall and written by John Patrick Shanley, the film’s narrative unfolds against the stunning backdrop of the Purcell Mountains in British Columbia. Narrated by the talented John Malkovich, the ensemble cast includes Ethan Hawke, Josh Hamilton, Vincent Spano, Bruce Ramsay, John Haymes Newton, Illeana Douglas, and Danny Nucci. Notably, Nando Parrado, one of the actual survivors, served as the technical advisor for the film.

The storyline begins with a group of photographs depicting the Stella Maris College’s Old Christians Rugby Team, setting the stage for the fateful journey. As Carlitos Páez reflects on the accident in a poignant monologue, the audience is drawn into the gripping tale of survival.

The film takes viewers on a turbulent flight over the Andes on that ominous day in 1972, where the raucous rugby players and their companions are eagerly anticipating an upcoming match in Chile. The narrative skillfully navigates the challenges faced by the survivors in the aftermath of the crash, highlighting their resilience and the harsh realities of their struggle for survival in the unforgiving mountainous terrain.

Adding depth to the cinematic experience, a companion documentary titled “Alive: 20 Years Later” was released concurrently with the film. This documentary provides interviews with the survivors, offering valuable insights into their experiences, and includes documentary footage of the daring rescue mission. For those seeking additional content, the 30th Anniversary Edition of “Alive: The Miracle of the Andes” on DVD features this documentary in the Extras section, enriching the viewer’s understanding of the events and the enduring spirit of those who defied the odds to stay alive.

Alive (1993 Film)

Directed  Frank Marshall
Screenplay John Patrick Shanley
  •  Kathleen Kennedy
  • Robert Watts
Cinematography Peter James
  •  Michael Kahn
  • William Goldenberg
Music  James Newton Howard
  • Touchstone Pictures
  • Paramount Pictures
  • The Kennedy/Marshall Company
  • Buena Vista Pictures Distribution
  • Paramount Pictures
Release Dates

January 15, 1993

125 minutes
Country United States [3]
Language English


A collection of photographs from 1993 captures the poignant moments of the Stella Maris College’s Old Christians Rugby Team, notably highlighted by Carlitos Páez as he reminisces about the team members and reflects on a tragic event through a poignant monologue.

The narrative unfolds on October 13, 1972, as Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 soars above the Andes. Enthusiastic rugby players, accompanied by relatives and friends, anticipate an upcoming match in Chile. However, their excitement is abruptly interrupted as the plane encounters turbulence, colliding with a mountain and resulting in the separation of wings and tail from the fuselage. Amidst the chaos, lives are lost, leaving the survivors to grapple with injuries, the harsh mountain environment, and the daunting challenge of survival.

As darkness descends, the survivors, led by team captain Antonio, improvise to endure the cold night. Antonio, Roy Harley, and Rafael Cano ingeniously use luggage to seal a hole in the fuselage, providing shelter from the elements. In the absence of food sources, rationing becomes crucial, and the discovery of chocolates and wine fosters a brief moment of celebration when a passing plane sparks hope for rescue.

Nando, awakening from a coma and learning of his mother’s death, dedicates himself to caring for his severely injured sister, Susana. Faced with the grim reality of their situation, Nando proposes a drastic measure to ensure his survival and embark on a perilous journey for help. The group grapples with internal conflicts and the agonizing decision to consume the flesh of the deceased for sustenance.

As the days unfold, the survivors face avalanches and the loss of companions. Despite challenges, a determined team, including Nando and Canessa, embarks on a treacherous journey to find rescue. Ultimately, after a harrowing 12-day trek, they manage to escape the mountains and alert authorities to the survivors’ location.

The story concludes in 1993, where Carlitos describes the survivors’ return to the crash site, marking the resting place of their fallen comrades with a cross and stones. The film, “Alive: The Miracle of the Andes,” encapsulates this incredible tale of survival and resilience. A companion documentary, “Alive: 20 Years Later,” provides additional insights into the survivors’ experiences and the subsequent rescue. The 30th Anniversary Edition of the film includes this documentary, offering a comprehensive perspective on the enduring impact of the Alive saga.

Actors / Cast


  • Ethan Hawke as by Nando Parrado
  • Josh Hamilton as by Roberto Canessa
  • John Haymes Newton as Antonio “Tintin” Vizintin
  • Bruce Ramsay (elder one: John Malkovich) as Carlitos Páez
  • David Kriegel as Gustavo Zerbino
  • Jack Noseworthy as Bobby Francois
  • Kevin Breznahan as Roy Harley
  • David Cubitt as Adolfo “Fito” Strauch
  • Gian DiDonna as Eduardo Strauch
  • John Cassini as Daniel Fernández
  • Richard Ian Cox as Ramón “Moncho” Sabella
  • Nuno Antunes as Álvaro Mangino
  • Gordon Currie as José Luis “Coche” Inciarte
  • Sam Behrens as Javier Methol
  • Michael Tayles as Alfredo Delgado
  • Steven Shayler as José Pedro Algorta


  • Michael Sicoly as the Pilot
  • Jerry Wasserman as the Co-Pilot
  • Tony Morelli as the Navigator
  • José Zúñiga as the Mechanic
  • Frank Pellegrino as the Steward
  • Illeana Douglas as Liliana Methol
  • Ele Keats as Susana Parrado
  • Jan D’Arcy as Eugenia Parrado
  • Vincent Spano as Antonio Balbi
  • Michael DeLorenzo as Rafael Cano
  • Danny Nucci as Hugo Díaz
  • Josh Lucas as Felipe Restano
  • Chad Willett as Pablo Montero
  • Michael Woolson as Juan Martino
  • Diana Barrington as Mrs. Alfonsín
  • Christian Meoli as Federico Aranda
  • Jake Carpenter as Alberto Antuna
  • Silvio Pollio as Álex Morales
  • Jason Gaffney as Victor Bolarich
  • Seth James Arnett as Tomás Alonso
  • Aurelio Dinunzio as Dr. Solana
  • Fiona Roeske as Mrs. Solana


Rotten Tomatoes, the renowned review aggregator, reveals that 61% of the 28 critics it surveyed expressed a positive view of the film “Alive 1993,” yielding an average rating of 6.3/10. David Ansen, a critic from Newsweek, noted that while Piers Paul Read’s acclaimed book placed a significant focus on the social structure within the group, the film adaptation, under the direction of Marshall, tends to downplay these intriguing sociological details and character ambiguities. Instead, the narrative emphasizes action, heroism, and a subtle religiosity that permeates the storyline like powdered sugar.

Ray Green, on the other hand, commended the film’s tactful approach, highlighting Marshall’s ability to maintain dignity amidst the potential for lurid sensationalism. Green praised the movie’s downbeat course through grim events, attributing it in no small manner to the almost allegorical quality of Shanley’s stylized dialogue. Describing “Alive” as thrilling and engrossing, Green suggests that it transcends the conventional action film genre, evolving into a drama of ideas and a testament to the resilience of the human spirit.

Renowned film critic Roger Ebert, while acknowledging the film’s first-rate cast and cinematography, gave it a mixed review with two-and-a-half stars out of four. He expressed reservations about the storytelling limitations, asserting that some stories, like that of the Andes survivors, might be too immense to effectively convey due to the sheer enormity of the experience. Ebert also raised concerns about the realism of the actors’ physical portrayal after undergoing two months of near-starvation.

In terms of box office performance, “Alive 1993” grossed \$36.7 million in the United States and Canada and an additional \$45.8 million internationally, resulting in a commendable worldwide total of \$82.5 million. The film’s financial success reflects its ability to resonate with audiences on a global scale.

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