Movie Review: 127 Hours

Posted on October 6, 2011. Filed under: Movies, Personal Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

If you know this true story keep reading on, if you don’t know the story and were hoping to see the movie then you may not want to read on as I will mention the outcomes, being that it’s based on a true-story this is only a semi-spoiler alert. Word to the wise on this one – if you dislike blood or are a bit squeamish this may not be the movie for you. That being said this film is not outright gory or disgusting but the central plot is about a man who is trapped a few hundred feet below ground as his arm is crushed by a boulder, there is blood and there is amputation, it’s a central plot that may disturb some.

I’m personally, not quite that squeamish and I really enjoyed the movie. I knew of the director Danny Boyle but hadn’t really thought much about his work one way or another until this film. All I have to say is ‘Wow’. This was an excellent movie, well done all around! If his other flicks are as visually intriguing and gripping then I am a huge fan!

For those that may not know, this is based on the true story of Aron Ralston, an avid canyoneer that was trapped for 127 hours in a Utah canyon. Aron was a bit of a cocky young fellow and didn’t tell anyone where he was headed, how long to expect him to be gone, went alone on this expedition, was in one of the most remote canyons in the US (miles from the nearest unpaved road) and in a dangerous area that is susceptible to quick flash floods from rain and warns that it can take hours for anything other than a ‘self rescue’ to happen should you stumble into danger. Don’t get me wrong, it seems like Aron was great at this hobby, but a little hubris would have done him well in this situation. Aron has a book detailing this expedition available called Between a Rock and a Hard Place ( http://www.amazon.com/Between-Rock-Hard-Place-Ralston/dp/0743492811 ).

With that back story being covered, the movie adaptation of this real-life survival story features James Franco as Aron. James Franco plays off the cool cockiness that Aron admits to having in his younger years, and overall Franco does an excellent job going through the emotions of a man left with two defeating choices: death or amputation.

The movie quickly moves into the central plot, within the first half-hour (give or take my timing) Franco is trapped in the canyon and his arm is wedged between the canyon and the boulder. He quickly puts the survival skills he has been taught into use. He knows with the amount of water he has left how much he needs to drink to survive and how long this will actually keep him alive. He also understands that he has a few options for trying to move the boulder – none of which are working but he seems careful to conserve his energy as much as possible. He isn’t armed with a great knife so his first amputation effort is short lived. He does have a camcorder and a camera so he records things the is thinking in case the end really is near – he wanted to preserve that he was thinking and the importance of those in his life.

During his time in the canyon we get some insightful glances into his thoughts. We are taking to memories past, premonitions of the future (children with a one-armed man), and recent memories of small things he could have changed if given the opportunity. There were many ‘if only I had done this …’ times and you really sympathize with him in those situations. Aron is finally at the breaking point and realizes after he ‘sees’ a child with a one-armed man that he wants children and he wants a life. He knows that is what he wants and he fully understands that in order to save himself he must do something nearly impossible to survive: amputate his own arm.

After the amputation he is free, but he still needs to get out of the canyon and hike to his car which is many miles away and then hopefully find help in a reasonable enough time. The desperation in his walking during this part is so apparent and you are really pulling for him to survive – the hardest part is over! Aron reflects back on this event in his life and realizes that life was worth living and fighting for and also realized that a little slice of humble pie will go a long way.

It is a tough way to learn that lesson but an important lesson to learn. Overall, the message within the movie really has you question your own will power and the choices you make on a daily basis. How many times do we inadvertently put ourselves in danger for no apparent reason?

The movie was very artistically shot and while the subject matter was extremely grim and dramatic the movie was compelling and visually stimulating. The director did a wonderful job splicing in multiple scenes into one screenshot to really get you inside his head. The music was also wonderful. It was a little unconventional but really worked. I would definitely watch this movie again, maybe not one I would own but I would watch it again. It was an excellent film and an excellent story, very motivating!

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