Leave it to filmmaker Guillermo del Toro to instantly find the connection between supernatural horror film “The Orphanage,” the feature debut of J.A. Bayona that he produced, to the Spanish director’s latest film “Society of the Snow,” depicting the story of the survivors of the 1972 plane crash in the Andes.

Even though, on paper, both of Bayona’s films may seem like tough watches, in an exclusive video of the two directors’ chat about the Netflix release — chosen to be Spain’s submission for the Best International Feature Oscar — recent Academy Award winner del Toro expressed the deeper intertwined theme of the two films: “There’s a strange thing that I know intimately because we collaborated from your first movie on, we’ve been friends for longer, but one would argue that ‘The Orphanage’ is a survivor’s guilt tale because every other kid in that orphanage died except for [the protagonist], and she is called back in a way by those ghosts, and it’s at the same time a very delicate spiritual meditation.”

Bayona previously told IndieWire that “Society of the Snow” was made in part to tamp down on the more sensational parts of the plane crash survivors’ stories (i.e. cannabalism), and show of the group came to “this unconscious realization that you and I are the same thing. That if you live, I live.”

Expanding upon that idea in his talk with del Toro, Bayona quoted survivor Roberto Canessa. “Allow me to accept in peace the fact that we lived the lives that you didn’t have the chance to live” showing how “there was this guilt, and we always talk about guilt when we talk about ‘The Orphanage.’ There’s also this idea of growing up and dealing with the uncertainty of what it means to be alive in the bigger sense of the world, and you cannot talk about life without talking about death,” said the Spanish director. 

Though “Society of the Snow” does not intend to scare its viewers in the same way “The Orphanage” does, the film still elicits a visceral reaction. “It’s a story that gets the tough decision of killing the audience to allow them to experience the ending through the eyes of other characters and then by doing so, you understand what was the step that the people who died were taking by giving them everything they had when they had nothing,” said Bayona. “The only thing that was left for them, they gave it to the other ones.”

See the full conversation between filmmakers Guillermo del Toro and J.A. Bayona below. “Society of the Snow” will open in select theaters on December 22 and begin streaming on Netflix on January 4.

Leave a comment