Society Of The Snow, Moral Decay

Based on a true story, Society of the Snow, offers an example of a well-managed community in the face of extreme hardship. The film, which is nominated for Best International Feature Film at this year's Oscars, highlights that morality and friendship are necessary to survive.


The screening ends, but no one gets up. There is only silence. The ten minutes of credits serve as a tribute to the deceased and the survivors of the Andes. For two hours, viewers had been experiencing intense feelings, despite the fact that what was being shown in the movie is a well-known story.

But at this moment, they feel more challenged to reflect existentially on what they have just seen.

Society of the Snow, directed by Spain’s J. A. Bayona, offers an opportunity to better understand what happened in the 1972 Andes flight disaster because it tells the story from the inside. The film’s hyperrealism creates anguish and a sort of small trauma for a few days, but also an impulse for reflection and a mental reset. This is the true power of fiction: to transform the human psyche.

Bayona points out that the survivors of the Andes needed their story to be retold to change the narrative about who the heroes were. Likewise, each viewer needs to construct their own story to understand what happened. After leaving the cinema, many begin to follow a series of rituals: searching for information about the accident, listening one more time to the testimonies of the survivors, reading more about the story or debating with friends about how they were able to put up with so much discomfort.

Changing perspective

Through this search, one thing becomes clear: the basic function of humans is to survive because, as Spanish neuroscientist Francisco Mora points out, we are programmed that way. Although each protagonist experiences fear, suffering or uncertainty in a different way, there were some common factors to bear with hopelessness. All the survivors of the crash wanted to be rescued and resume a life they cherished.

You can sense how eager they were to experience the adult stage of their lives

Sometimes, a simple conversation fantasizing about a future BBQ they would be enjoying or making poetic rhymes at night helped them escape from reality. Admiration for these young people and their ability to find solutions while depending on one another — focusing on daily challenges without losing the realistic perspective of the situation in which they found themselves — transpire from viewers’ comments.

Although the survivors were more or less certain that the thaw was coming and that soon the time would come when some at least would be able to leave, not knowing what they were going to face made them accept that risk, because, sometimes, not knowing can also protect you.

Morality is necessary to survive

But the film makes it clear that surviving is not just a matter of genetics. It does so by emphasizing the moral story of its protagonists. The individual survival instinct is not enough if behind there is no supportive team seeking the survival of all.

The survivors were a model of a well-managed community

You can see it in how they melted the snow they drank, how they organized the storage and distribution of food, how they shared tasks and roles, how they alternated where they slept or how they prepared the best clothes for the expedition. The havoc they experienced inside that plane was better endured by thinking that nobody would survive alone, by actively and consciously listening to the needs of others, by allowing themselves to be cared for, through compassion and thanks to the sense of security of belonging to a group of faithful and complicit friends.

Everyone had a role, even if it was to do nothing. Those who felt stronger found meaning in helping those who were weaker. It seems that, in that society, there was no strict hierarchy, contrary to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. And without a doubt, the recurring subject was the ethical dilemma about how to feed themselves and how each person interpreted it according to their own conflict of values.

It is impressive to see such young people having these long and deep debates about the respect for individuality, the value given to life, the ways in which one wants to die, spirituality, the consequences of their decisions. And you can only wonder what moral, educational and ethical foundations supported these debates that now sound so distant.

The moments in which the survivors say goodbye to their friends, expressing the need to tell their families what had happened, are overwhelming. This clashes with the current culture which minimizes the importance of preparing for death and grief.

This content is part of a collaboration agreement of ‘WorldCrunch’, with the magazine ‘Ethic’. Read the original at this link.