Discussion on the Use of Pathos in the Film “Alive”

Authors often attempt to earn the approval and attention of the targeted audience by using appeal techniques in their works. The authors use these techniques to appeal to norms, character, and emotions to make their arguments more persuasive. The most commonly used appeals are ethos, pathos, and logos. Therefore, this discussion explores how the author communicates to the audience through emotional appeal in the 1993 film “Alive.”

The story of the Andes survivors in the film “Alive” presents how characters respond to struggle in a natural and clear sagacity. In the film, the director, Frank Marshall, utilizes various rhetorical techniques to portray each character’s struggle in the plane crash with the immediate physical alteration. Pathos is one of the techniques incited by placing the characters in a frightful situation, which creates panic within the viewers. Therefore, the dilemma sets a horrifying atmosphere within the audience.

The establishment of personalization of the characters in the film when the director represents the Uruguayan rugby team as helpless children; evokes emotional appeal within the audience. As a result, the personalization affects the viewers’ attention and sets them to feel sad and pity towards the panic and struggles the characters face in the film. Furthermore, pathos is induced in the characters’ voices before the crash scene when they describe the appearance of the snow-cap Mountains below the plane as terrifying (Marshall, 1993). The scenario prepares the audience to feel for the following worse incident. Therefore, each character’s struggle to survive in the film and the visual effect of the forthcoming suffering evokes emotional appeal in the audience.

In the film, the director uses the emotional appeal technique in different scenes intending to achieve various objectives. Firstly, he intends to make the audience understand his presentation of the panic and suffering such as open wounds and frozen conditions endured by the characters during the plane crash. Secondly, the pathos evokes the audience to accept and recognize the horrifying survival circumstances experienced by the characters in the wretched plane parts, as actual hence feel for them.

Indeed, the integration of emotional appeal in the film is warranted and practical. One of the reasons is its success in capturing the viewers’ attention while portraying the characters’ horror scenes. Consequently, the audience feels sad and pities the characters’ hopeless survival attempts in the plane crash.

In summary, the employment of pathos in artistic work such as films enables the author to capture the mood and attention of the targeted audience. Moreover, evoking the audience’s feelings allows it to understand the author’s point of view and accept the reality of the message presented in various ways, such as sad, jolly, and anxious scenes.


Marshall, F. (Director). (1993). Alive [Film]. Touchstone Pictures Paramount Pictures.           

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