Cannibalism and Love

January 15, 2009

Hard to correlate these two disparate ideas: airplane crash victims lost high in the Andes resorting to cannibalism, and stark humanity imbued with love.

But that’s what played out on the movie screen tonight in the documentary Stranded: I’ve Come From a Plane That Crashed on the Mountains. After the plane carrying the Uruguayan ruby team went down in October 1972, sixteen of the forty-five passengers survived for more than two months. Had they not eaten from the bodies of their dead companions, they too would have died in the aptly named Valley of Tears. They were rescued when two team members trekked for days through towering peaks.

Only now have the survivors spoken out, some after recently visiting the crash site. Anything I might say about their experience would be inadequate compared to listening to their profound and articulate reflections. I’ll say this about the documentary: never has a depiction of tragedy and death and the quest to survive ever moved me as this film did. Not with despair but joy in the illumination of the bonds we share as humans.

Too bad my wife Suzame and I were alone in the theater of 46 seats, the only place in Portland showing the film.