Arts & Entertainment

The science behind ‘Society of the snow’

By Caty Arévalo

Madrid, Feb 8 (EFE).- Juan Antonio Bayona wanted ‘Society of the Snow’ to exude realism, so he sought scientific advice to ensure that 30 actors lost 30 kilos within a few months, mirroring the victims of the Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 crash in the Andes in 1972.

The production team adjusted the filming schedule at the crash location according to climate and meteorological recommendations so that the Valley of Tears, situated on a glacier that has shrunk by 60% since 1972, resembled its appearance from 50 years ago.

Argentina-based doctors and researchers, Antonio Escribano Sr. (an endocrinologist) and Jr. (an internal medicine specialist) guided the 30 actors aged between 18 and their twenties in adapting their body composition and weight to match the victims.

They meticulously oversaw the process, ensuring each actor’s physical transformation while safeguarding their health and performance capabilities.

The ‘biochemical script’

In October 2021, the Escribanos doctors conducted all kinds of tests on the actors. From October 2021 to early 2022 (when filming began), the doctors focused on individualized nutritional plans for the actors to gain muscle and weight (between three and eight kilos).

Meanwhile, from February to May 2022, the key was to achieve extreme weight loss (between 20 and 30 kilos).

The crew and the medical staff also improvised a clinic with all its equipment in one of the rooms of the hotel and worked with the chefs of the catering service to prepare recipes adapted to each profile.

“Most of the actors were from Argentina, so we looked for dishes they would like and made them low in calories, achieving a 70-calorie milanesa, empanadas with a very soft puff pastry; up to 30 light soup recipes for dinners, or strategies to trick hunger with chocolate-flavored gelatin, skim yogurts or zero-calorie candies,” explained Antonio Escribano Sr. in an interview with EFE.

The challenge, he added, “was not only to lose more than 20 kilos in a couple of months or to achieve apparently deteriorated body morphologies for the actors after the rescue, but to do it without interfering with the proper functioning of their brains, to memorize and dramatize their roles.”

They took nutritional supplements “which did not lack coverage of vitamins such as A, B, C and precise amounts of selenium, zinc, and iron,” explained the doctor.

Navigating the impact of climate change

When the film was shot in Oct. 2021, 49 years after the disaster, there was another difficulty, climate change.

In addition to the glacier’s decline, the valley “has lost 30% of snow depth since then, due to lack of winter precipitation and high temperatures,” emphasized Raúl Cordero, a climatologist at the University of Santiago de Chile, to EFE.

After a failed first attempt, Margarita Huguet, production manager of the film, sought advice on meteorological conditions and climate to organize a second shoot in the Andes in August 2022. EFE

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