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In 1972 a chartered plane carrying a Uruguayan rugby squad and various family members crashed in the Andes. If that sounds dry and matter-of-fact, you haven't seen director Frank Marshall's harrowing re-creation Alive, an adrenaline-pounding, heart-in-your-mouth spectacle that kicks off this famous story of survival. The real-life against-all-odds odyssey made worldwide headlines when it became known that the survivors ate their own dead to survive. What could have easily become sensationalistic exploitation is treated with compassion and dignity by Marshall as he explores their moral and spiritual struggles as well as their physical ordeal. As team captain and base-camp cheerleader Vincent Spano slowly collapses under the stress and Ethan Hawke rouses from mourning his dead family to taking charge of saving himself, it also becomes a portrait in leadership, hope, and emotional courage.

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WD21773 Alive DVD (1993/Ethan Hawke) $14.99