It is one of the most amazing stories you can possibly imagine.
In 1972, 16 men survived 72 days in harsh conditions after a plane carrying a rugby team from Uruguay crashed in the Andes mountains, leaving them surrounded by snow and without food.
The harrowing experience is recounted in the new Netflix movie “Society of the Snow,” which also depicts the terrifying moment of the crash that resulted in the plane’s wings coming off and the fuselage sliding down a mountain.
“I thought I was going to die,” survivor Dr. Roberto Canessa told TODAY’s Tom Llamas in a segment that aired Nov. 30.
Canessa, who was 19 at the time, said it was not easy watching the movie.
“Yeah, because I was immersed in that place again. I was back to the fuselage,” he said.
The story of the team’s experience has been told, most notably in the 1993 movie “Alive,” but this film is different because viewers are taken to the real site of the crash, mirroring what really happened.
“We were shooting 12,000 feet, exactly in the same place where the plane crashed, at the same time of the year,” “Society of the Snow” director J.A. Bayona told TODAY.
The cast and crew also studied photos from the scene taken by cameras the survivors found on the plane.
“Every time you see one of those pictures you think about who were they, what happened to them,” Bayona said.
Star Enzo Vogrincic lost 50 pounds to play his character, eating nothing but a can of tuna and a tangerine each day, an action that, along with living in the harsh conditions, helped him better understand why the survivors made the decisions they did, including eating the flesh of those onboard who had died.
“I thought if I would die, I would be proud that my body would be used for someone else,” Canessa said.
Canessa would ultimately hike out of the mountain range with a teammate to get help. He later became a pediatric cardiologist, but his experience has always stayed with him and provided a key lesson.
“About how to overcome difficulties in life and have faith in yourself,” he said.