In Netflix’s ‘Society of the Snow,’ a group of passengers finds themselves in an impossible situation when their plane crashes and leaves them stranded in the snow-covered mountains with no sign of civilization for miles. Based on the true story of the Uruguayan rugby team in 1972, the movie takes us through the complexities of the situation and the moral and ethical dilemma that the passengers have to face. The events unfold from the point of view of the narrator, Numa Turcatti, whose death shakes the passengers, but a note that he leaves behind spurs them into action. What was in that note, and what did it mean for the survivors? SPOILERS AHEAD
Numa’s Note is a Sign of Solidarity to the Survivors
“There is no greater love than to give one’s life for friends”— these are the final words that Numa Turcatti left for his friends, the sixteen survivors still stranded in the Andes. Numa was the last survivor to die before the group was finally rescued, and he had become an important part of the team. From the beginning, he had been focused entirely on ensuring the group’s survival and their efforts to find a way out of the mountains they were trapped in.
The only thing that Numa couldn’t get himself around to was eating the flesh of his fellow passengers. Soon after the crash, the survivors ran out of food, and their condition started to deteriorate rapidly. They needed to eat to survive in the cold, and there was nothing else but the dead bodies of their friends, with whom they’d boarded the flight only a few days before. While most of the survivors agreed to the decision to eat flesh, Numa was one of the people who tried not to do it for as long as possible.
Eventually, Numa had to eat, but his continued revulsion to the act put him at a disadvantage, and his health continued to deteriorate. Still, he was well because he wasn’t injured. That changed after the avalanche, where he sustained a leg injury that led to an infection, which consumed him even more. While his friends were planning to leave on the expedition, Numa was on his final breaths, and he knew it.
Before he died, Numa gave permission to his friends to eat his body should the need arise. Though a lot of survivors had already made this pact, Numa’s permission held much more meaning. One of the reasons behind his depleting health was his refusal to eat the flesh. According to the survivors, he became even more reluctant to eat in his final days, throwing it away when no one was looking rather than eating it and building strength. In that context, his readily giving himself up to his friends is a sign of solidarity and his faith that while he didn’t get to, they will make it out alive.
Numa’s note in the end, which is from a passage in the Bible, was yet another indication of his wish for his friends to survive. The survivors considered great heroism on the part of the dead to give up their bodies to help ensure the survival of their friends when they themselves wouldn’t make it out alive. For Numa, this held even greater value considering how much he had been against the act when it came to eating himself, but how easy it was for him to be the food if it meant the rest could survive for longer.
Numa’s note also ignites a fire inside the survivors as Roberto Canessa, who had been delaying the expedition on the count of the weather, decides to finally take the leap. The sleeping bag was also done before Numa died, and the note came as his blessing, firing up the survivors to make this final attempt at rescue.