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Entertainment Media Analysis Report
A service to our youth through you,
their parents and grandparents, in His name by His Word

Alive (1993), R
Analysis Date: November 14, 2002
CAP Score: 50
CAP Influence Density: 1.10

MinMax: -100

Alive (1993) CAP Mini-thermometers

ALERT: To fully understand this report you should first visit the topics suggested by the CAP Table of Contents.

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NOTE: If you do not want the plot, ending, or "secrets" of a movie spoiled for you, skip the Summary/Commentary. In any case, be sure to visit the Findings/Scoring section -- it is completely objective to His Word and is the heart of the CAP Entertainment Media Analysis Model applied to this movie.


If Scriptural references appear, the full text appears at the end of the Summary / Commentary likely using a mix of KJV and NIV.

ALIVE (R) -- a mini-sermon on the fear of God.

Production: Paramount Pictures, Touchstone Pictures
Distribution: Buena Vista Pictures
Director(s): Frank Marshall
Producer(s): Bruce Cohen, Kathleen Kennedy, Robert Watts
Written by/Screenplay: Piers Paul Read (book). John Patrick Shanley (screenplay)
Cinematography/Camera: Peter James
Music: James Newton Howard
Film Editing: William Goldenberg, Michael Kahn
Production Design: Norman Reynolds

In October 1972 twenty-five men and two women died as the result of a plane crash on the slopes of the Andes Mountains. Sixteen survived. Survival at any cost is the mode of life. Alive deals with a somber subject no matter who writes about it -- cannibalism to stay alive. Could you eat human flesh if your life depended on it? Could I? As John Malkovich said, portraying a 1993 interview with one of the survivors in an uncredited monologue at the beginning of the film:

"Until you're in a situation like that, you have no idea how you'll behave."

Malkovich had more to say:

"Now, there's the god they taught me about in school. And there is the god that is hidden by what surrounds us in this civilization. That's the God I met on the mountain."

Mighty profound words, indeed. Sort of like the saying "There are no atheists in foxholes." Fear and impending doom seem to always lead us to God [Ps. 56:3]. What John said tells us is that all the kicking of God out of our lives and our activities, government and schools seems to have hidden Him from us when He is always there. We just don't look for Him or see Him. But in the life-and-death survival mode, God is present. Clearly. This was even portrayed as one of the characters who survived one avalanche, under the foreboding threat of the thunder of a second avalanche, decided to speak the "Hail, Mary" prayer -- for the first time -- with the others who had been saying it every night [Ps. 62:8, Ps. 147:11].

Psalm 147:11 speaks to fear of God. I am going to take that opportunity to give a mini-sermon on the fear of God.

"Fear of God", one of the most misunderstood and misused expressions from the Bible. So many use it against the believers saying God demands that you be afraid of Him when it couldn't be further from the Truth. Looking at the definition of "fear", where "fear of God" appears in the KJV there are three translations to "fear."

- yir'ah {yir-aw'}: fear (of God), respect, reverence, piety, revered [This is desire to do right and being ashamed of or regretting failure due to poor choices, not fear of being punished.]

- pachad {pakh'-ad}: terror, dread, object of dread [This is fear of the consequences of doing wrong.]

- phobos {fob'-os}: reverence as in for one's husband (or wife) [This is desire to become and be favorable and fear of failing at it.]

When "pachad" is used it speaks to that which His enemies should feel such as in 2 Chronicles 20:29 "And the fear [pachad] of God was on all the kingdoms of those countries, when they had heard that the LORD fought against the enemies of Israel." But in other cases when "yirah" and "phobos" are used, it speaks to reverence, honor and respect such as in 2 Samuel 23:3 "The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear [yirah] of God", in 2 Corinthians 7:1 "Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear [phobos] of God" and in Ephesians. 5:21 "Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear [phobos] of God."

So, if one opposes and rejects God one should dread (pachad) fear what He may do (and may not do). If one loves Him one should revere, honor and respect (yirah or phobos) fear Him. "Yirah" or "phobos" fear Him even in the marriage sense as we, the believers, will be collected as His Bride at the Rapture.

End of sermon.

My integrity requires that I tell you I do not know whether God condemns cannibalism or not, cannibalism being defined as humans eating human flesh. Cannibalism appears in the Scriptures here and there but that does not indicate His approval of it. In the typical sense, "cannibal" refers to a member of a tribe of people who murder others for food. God certainly condemns murder but the situation in Alive does not involve murder. God speaks darkly of eating the flesh of the dead many times in the Bible. He speaks of it as punishment for the wicked -- that the flesh of their carcasses be eaten. Some pagans in the Bible have even boiled their children for food (which is murder). In each case of cannibalism in the Bible nowhere can I find where He condemns it OR condones it. But that I cannot find anything in His Word that condemns cannibalism does not mean it does not exist. Thus I cannot find anything that can be applied to eating the flesh of the dead for survival such as that faced by the survivors of the Andes plane crash. Without being able to find His Word about whether cannibalism to survive is sinful or not, I cannot advise for or against it. The movie brings up many thoughts about it. Indeed, there are probably as many thoughts about it as people who see the movie or read the book. And without Scriptural authority to provide definition, each thought is as good as the next. If anyone can show me in the Bible (KJV or NIV) where cannibalism is or is not sinful, I would be happy to revise this report to reflect His Word about it.

On Friday, October 13, 1972 a plane carrying 45 family, friends and members of a Uruguaynan rugby team on its way to Chile crashed in the Andes mountains of South America. I have not seen, before or since, a recreation of an air disaster of this caliber. In a sequence of air pockets causing loss of flight integrity, the rear of the plane clipped the top of one of the mountain peaks and broke off. Passengers still in their seats were seen being sucked out of the gaping hole where the plane tail used to be, plummeting to their deaths. It was also clear that those who were in the tail section were on their way to their deaths.

The front section of the plane arrowed wingless at a glancing angle onto a snow-covered slope, which probably saved those who survived the initial impact into the snow-covered Andes. Finally the front section came to a hard stop against mountain terrain. Cinematography was so detailed and intricate that when the downed front section of the plane was stopped by the mountain terrain the seated passengers were seen sliding forward, still seated , crushing those in front of them as the seats were ripped from their flooring in a cascade collision with the bulkhead separating the passenger compartment from the crew duty areas in the front of the craft. Little was left to the imagination regarding crash mechanisms.

Once downed and after a few moments to collect themselves, the inevitable fractionation into pecking order developed with the team captain, Antonio Balbi (Vincent Spano) still retaining his position of authority. First year medical student, Roberto Canessa (Josh Hamilton) does what he can to care for the injured. After days of no rescue and after hearing via hand-held radio that the search was called off, all presumed dead, Balbi falters in his leadership. Previously unconscious Nando Parrado (Ethan Hawke) fills in the void of security in authority. Nando is also the one who takes it upon himself to find help rather than wait for help to come.

It is med student Roberto who is first to slice the first meal from the dead. With the meager supply of wine and chocolate depleted (gobbled after believing a small plane saw them), the pragmatic and practical Nando convinced the now dying to consume the flesh of the dead. Much discussion and thoughtful reflection on cannibalism was sensitively portrayed. There was even humor, dark as it was, amidst the terror: "If I die, you can eat me." And there was no ugliness such as in Soylent Green. Many arguments for and against eating the flesh of the dead were bandied amongst the survivors. So thorough were the discussions, I doubt anyone could come up with any more. And each of the discussions was centered about what God's Will would likely be about cannibalism. Humility is well portrayed as each who ate of the dead bodies expressed disgust and regret in doing so, forced by survival to compromise their standards.

Once cannibalistic life settles into a routine, another disaster befalls the troupe and more die ... an avalanche buries the camp made from the wreckage. But team tenacious dug out of the would-be tomb of snow and resumed making the best of a very bad situation. Courage and strength was portrayed very well. If this "based on a true story" movie is true to what actually happened, the men and women of the Andes crash, the living and the dead, are to be applauded.

After several weeks, three team members walk to find the tail section to obtain the batteries for the plane's radio transmitter. But without an experienced crewman with them to connect the radio, this effort failed. After more days of seeming hopelessness, Nando sponsors another trek with two of his teammates to find civilization. The rest of the survivors, beaten by the elements, submit to Nando's insistence and agreed to expend meager resources on an attempt to find civilization. This effort proves fruitful. After 72 days in the frozen heights of the Andes, 16 members of the Uruguaynan rugby team were rescued. Thirty-nine people died in that disaster. Many immediately, some in agony but with courage and honor.

Many of the deaths were very gruesome and graphic as would be expected of such an event. Nonetheless this is entertainment, not actual file footage. This is making money just like the best seller book by Piers Paul Read. Gangrene, injuries and tissue necrosis were accurately moulaged. But there were no sensationalistic gore scenes of half-eaten corpses. A number of times a row of bodies neatly arranged in the snow were seen. Of questionable necessity was one scene of bodies half stripped of their flesh but yet modestly half buried in the snow. The most prevalent in terms of questionable behaviors were the language issues [Col. 3:8], matters of violence expected for such a subject and saturation with smoking [1 Cor. 6:19]. While the CAP analysis model (the Findings/Scoring section) does not compromise the scoring for the sake of positive messages, I am going to let you know of the reliance of the characters on God [Ps. 31:14]. While some scenes seem to mock God and our faith in Him [Gal. 6:7], often it is clear that faith in God was the only real thing that kept the survivors going with a will to live [Prov. 3:5, Isa. 26:4].


If needed to focus or fortify, applicable text is underlined or bracketed [ ]. If you wish to have full context available, the Blue Letter Bible is a convenient source. If you use the Blue Letter Bible, a new window will open. Close it to return here or use "Window" in your browser's menu bar to alternate between the CAP page and the Blue Letter Bible page.

  • Ps. 56:3 When I am afraid, I will trust in you.
  • Ps. 62:8 Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. Selah.
  • Ps. 147:11 The LORD taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy.
  • Col. 3:8 But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.
  • 1 Cor. 6:19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
  • Ps. 31:14 But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, "You are my God."
  • Gal. 6:7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
  • Prov. 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
  • Isa. 26:4 Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD, is the Rock eternal.

    *******Food for Daily Thought*******
  • Ps. 12:8 The wicked freely strut about [e.g., create progressively vile/offensive entertainment with impunity and no consequences to younger and younger audiences every year] when what is vile is honored among men [when enough people continue to defend it, embrace it, pay for it, enjoy it, want it]. [I call attention to Ps. 12:8 to warn of the creeping desensitizing power of "entertainment."]
  • 1 Cor. 15:33 (KJV) Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. (NIV) Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.
  • Jude 4 For certain men* whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change [warp, distort, falsely represent] the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. [*men: anthropos {anth'-ro-pos}, generic, a human being, whether male or female]
  • Matt. 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto [or for] one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto [or for] me.
  • Luke 17:2 It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. [cause by teaching or example]
  • Ps. 119:133 Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me.
  • John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
  • 1 Thess. 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.


    As always, it is best to refer to the Findings/Scoring section -- the heart of the CAP analysis model -- for the most complete assessment possible of this movie.

    Alive (1993) CAP Thermometers

    Wanton Violence/Crime (W):
  • bloody injuries, many
  • long sequence of people falling out of a hole in the airplane
  • multiple frozen dead bodies with injuries, repeatedly
  • impalement injury with extraction
  • ice bridge collapse peril for five
  • fighting
  • morbid discussion of eating each other and making joke of it
  • horror of being forced to eat human flesh to survive, repeatedly
  • avalanche terror, injuries and multiple deaths
  • additional multiple dead frozen bodies with injuries
  • rescue peril
  • row of bodies half stripped of their flesh but yet modestly half buried in the snow

    Impudence/Hate (I)(1):
  • one use of the most foul of the foul words
  • 15 uses of the three/four letter word vocabulary
  • defiance of rightful authority
  • want of suicide
  • desire to eat pilots for food as revenge because they caused the crash

    Sex/Homosexuality (S):
  • inappropriate touch for the sake of extricating a dead body

    Drugs/Alcohol (D):
  • smoking, almost uncountable
  • drinking, repeatedly
  • drinking to celebrate

    Offense to God (O)(2):
  • "Well, He put us here!"
  • I don't think God cares whether we're civilized."

    Murder/Suicide (M)(3):
  • none noted

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    NOTE: The CAP Analysis Model makes no scoring allowances for trumped-up "messages" to excuse or for manufacturing of justification for aberrant behavior or imagery, or for camouflaging such ignominy with "redeeming" programming. Disguising sinful behavior in a theme plot does not excuse the sinful behavior of either the one who is drawing pleasure or example from the sinful display or the practitioners demonstrating the sinful behavior. This is NOT a movie review service. It is a movie analysis service to parents and grandparents to tell them the truth about movies using the Truth.

    "There are some in the entertainment industry who maintain that 1) violent programming is harmless because no studies exist that prove a connection between violent entertainment and aggressive behavior in children, and 2) young people know that television, movies, and video games are simply fantasy. Unfortunately, they are wrong on both accounts." And "Viewing violence may lead to real life violence." I applaud these associations for fortifying 1 Cor. 15:33. Read the rest of the story. From our nearly seven years of study, I contend that other aberrant behaviors, attitudes, and expressions can be inserted in place of "violence" in that statement. Our Director - Child Psychology Support, a licensed psychologist and certified school psychologist concurs. For example, "Viewing arrogance against fair authority may lead to your kids defying you in real life." Or "Viewing sex may lead to sex in real life." Likewise and especially with impudence, hate and foul language. I further contend that any positive behavior can be inserted in place of "violence" with the same chance or likelihood of being a behavior template for the observer; of being incorporated into the behavior mechanics and/or coping skills of the observer. In choosing your entertainment, please consider carefully the "rest of the story" and our findings.

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    (1) As noted in CAP Special Report-001, "Investigation Area and Scoring Trend," of the six CAP Investigation Areas, Impudence/Hate was the strongest presence in all four movie classifications. It has a strong revelation about the entertainment media.

    (2) The use of the three/four letter word vocabulary without God's name in vain is incorporated into the Impudence/Hate Investigation Area. The use of God's name with or without the four letter expletive is incorporated into the Offense to God Investigation Area. There is no duplication.

    (3) Only portrayal of successful murder or suicide are incorporated into Murder/Suicide. Portrayal of attempts to commit murder or suicide and deaths by police action or war are incorporated into Wanton Violence/Crime.

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