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Case Number 21140: Small Claims Court

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I Am Alive: Surviving The Andes Plane Crash

History Channel // 2010 // 98 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Franck Tabouring (Retired) // April 16th, 2011

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All Rise...

Judge Franck Tabouring is alive! He's alive!

The Charge

A harrowing personal account of the 16 rugby players who survived the horrific 1972 plane crash in the Andes.

The Case

It happened on Friday, Oct. 13, 1972. A twin-engine turboprop aircraft carrying forty-five people crashed in a remote location in the Andes Mountains, the massive mountain range running along the entire Pacific coast of South America. Of the passengers and crew members on board, twenty-nine ended up dying. While some were instantly killed in the crash, others briefly lived before succumbing to injuries and the extreme weather conditions. Sixteen of them survived though, but it took seventy-two long days before they could finally be rescued. Brad Osborne's History Channel documentary I Am Alive: Surviving the Andes Plane Crash retraces the horrific crash and its grueling aftermath, reminding viewers that the exceptional true story of those sixteen individuals will always remain a story of great human survival.

In a nutshell, I Am Alive is a fascinating, truly inspiring film. Although quite conventional in terms of structure, Osborne's documentary delivers an incredibly detailed and compelling account of what happened to the sixteen people who survived the Andes tragedy and kept fighting for survival in the bitter cold for more than two months. What really makes this such an interesting piece is the participation of some of the crash's survivors, who were kind enough to sit down with the filmmakers and essentially recount their nightmarish experience from start to finish. One of the interviewees in the film is Nando Parrado, who along with Roberto Canessa embarked on an unbelievable ten-day trek across the mountains to look for help. Their goal to get out of the mountains seemed pretty hopeless at first, but their strong will to survive eventually filled them with the necessary courage and energy to keep going.

Essentially, I Am Alive also pays tribute to the men who did everything in their power to stay alive. In addition to excellent camera work, clean editing, and an informative narration, the film boasts a superb mix of original photographs from the crash site, in-depth interviews with survivors, authors, and expert mountaineers, animations depicting the crash, and a whole bunch of reenactments that help spectators better visualize the sheer pain these survivors had to endure during their seventy-two-day stay in the middle of nowhere. The end result truly is one heck of an intriguing small-screen experience that will immediately snatch your full attention and keep you gazing at your TV for 98 intense minutes.

Putting this film together required lots of planning, and the hard work clearly shows in the strong quality of the project. Thus, the DVD comes with an excellent presentation boasting a clean sharp image quality and top-notch audio transfer. For those wanting to learn more about the production, the bonus section offers a few informative extras, including a featurette focusing on a recent expedition to the crash site, behind-the-scenes footage, two slideshows, and extended interviews.

Treating the subject matter with the utmost respect, Brad Osborne's I Am Alive: Surviving the Andes Plane Crash easily goes down as one of my favorite made-for-TV documentaries. The film doesn't beat around the bush when it comes to retracing the events of the accident and the following battle for survival, and it covers pretty much everything you would want to know about. On top of that, the selection of interviews with the survivors fills the entire thing with an atmosphere that is as emotional as it is gripping. Highly recommendable.

The Verdict

Not guilty.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 90

Perp Profile

Studio: History Channel
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• None
Running Time: 98 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Documentary
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• Bonus Footage
• Extended Interviews
• Featurettes
• Photo Galleries


• Official Site

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