Netflix’s ‘Society of the Snow’ revisits the tragedy of the 1972 crash of Flight 571 and the journey of the passengers who were stranded in the Andes for more than two months. Just when it seems like things couldn’t get any worse for the survivors, another challenge is thrown at them, and they find themselves at a crossroads, trying to find a solution to their problems. The audience is let into their thoughts and dilemmas through the narrator, who becomes the heart and soul of the story.
The Narrator of the Film was an Unconventional Choice
The events in ‘Society of the Snow’ are narrated by Numa Turcatti, a 24-year-old law student who boards the plane with his friends on the rugby team. At the beginning of the story, Numa reveals that he doesn’t know most of the passengers and very few on the rugby team, but they are all young like him. Another thread that ties him with the rest of the passengers is the plane crash that strands all of them in the Andes mountains with little to no hope of rescue.
When J.A. Bayona decided to make the film, he knew that he needed an “in” into the story. The audience needed someone to connect to and be able to empathize with. More than that, he knew that, at one point, the audience was bound to judge the survivors. Deciding to eat their dead friends to sustain themselves is not an easy choice and one that is bound to receive backlash from people, which is what the survivors experienced once they were back home and the news about cannibalism came to light.
However, none of those people were stranded in the Andes and had no idea what it was like to survive in that situation, which is why Bayona didn’t want to judge the characters in the film. If there was to be any judgment, it had to come from the passengers, which is what made it necessary to have a narrator. Without him, the film would lack the empathy a story like this requires.
While choosing the narrator, Bayona wanted to make sure that he wouldn’t overshadow the rest of the passengers, survivors or not. He wanted to make sure that every character in the story was the protagonist and that the film didn’t end up focusing on just one person’s heroism and glorifying them. He also wanted to make sure that the deceased had just as much voice as the survivors. Considering all that, it made sense to choose Numa Turcatti, even though he doesn’t survive till the end.
Numa Turcatti Died Two Weeks Before the Rescue
In ‘Society of the Snow,’ Numa proves himself to be one of the most tenacious people, ready to do anything to find help and rescue himself and his friends. He is ready to join the expeditions in search of a way out of the mountains, though he vehemently refuses to eat the flesh of his fellow passengers until there is no other option and he has to force himself to eat it.
It is his will to survive and his disgust towards eating the flesh that pushes him to kick his way out of the fuselage when they are all buried under the snow following an avalanche and have to start eating the ones lying dead next to them. As he kicks at the plane’s window to find a way out, he receives a cut on his leg. He doesn’t make anything of it at first, but then, the wound gets infected, and that becomes his undoing.
In real life, too, Numa Turcatti suffered a wound on his leg, which got infected and eventually consumed him. He died on December 11, 1972, at the age of 25, weighing 55 pounds, leaving a note for his friends from the Bible, which talks about the privilege of laying down one’s life for their friends. It was the day after he died that Roberto Canessa, Nando Parrado, and Antonio Vizintin set out on a hike (with Vizintin coming back later) that eventually resulted in a rescue.