Imagine you’re stuck in a canyon with your hand crushed by a heavy boulder and holding you stuck inside. Think that couldn’t happen to you? It happened to Aron Ralston in 2003. His story became the subject of the movie 127 Hours. It doesn’t sound like a movie that would catch your eye but it will surprise you.
SPOILER WARNING: This review will have some spoilers of the movie’s plot and even the ending.
The movie starts with Aron Ralston cycling in Utah’s Canyonland National Park. This is a favorite past-time for the avid 27 year-old mountain climber who had learned to love nature ever since he was a boy. He spots some young girls hiking the canyon for the first time and plays a tour guide. He even leads them to a part of the canyon where one can let go of their grip and fall into a canyon lake. Aron videotapes it all. After they leave him and tell of a party later on, he heads into more terrain of the canyon. One cliff has a boulder between the two edges. Aron puts pressure on the boulder while crossing the edges but the boulder comes loose. Aron falls and as he hits the ground, the boulder crushes his right hand and leaves him stuck in a desolate area 15 feet below the cliff. He can’t free himself. He has no cellphone with him. He told no one of his whereabouts. He knows he will die.
During the time down there, he takes out from his backpack whatever vital items he feels necessary, like a sandwich wrap, water bottle, digital watch to clock his time down, the one pocketknife he has, plastic container and a video camera. With the video camera, he videotapes his ordeal often speaking what his thoughts are. He confesses of his carelessness before the trip of not telling anyone where he’d be going. He confesses to his family about not fully appreciating them while alive. He has constant visions and recollections about his past: the good times and the mistakes he made. He even has a premonition of a young boy on a sofa.
During the whole time there, he has to eat and drink enough to keep him alive, such as eating the sandwich wrap, drinking a small amount of water at a time and even drinking his own urine he conserved. It isn’t until five days later he moves his arm out where there’s a free boneless area. He makes a crucial decision to amputate his arm with the dull knife. Finally after braking free, he descends from the canyon wall, drinks a dirty puddle of water and runs eight miles to the nearest help. His ordeal makes national news. At the end of the film, we see the real-life Aron with his wife and holding his son. The premonition of the boy came true.
The movie doesn’t sounds like something that would be entertaining but director Danny Boyle managed to turn it into a watchable entertaining movie. Inclusion of the flashbacks and even other film parts make it entertaining. The amputation scene has to be the hardest to watch. Some viewers who saw it at its debut at the Toronto Film Festival fainted when they saw it. However Danny Boyle insisted that it had to look realistic. Makeup Artist Tony Gardiner worked with medical professionals to make the amputated wound look as medically accurate as possible.
Danny Boyle succeeded again in making an excellent film. James Franco did an excellent job in playing Aron. A.H. Rahman also did an excellent job with the original music. Cinematography of the natural landscape was also excellent.
127 Hours isn’t for everybody and definitely not the faintest of hearts. Despite whatever gruesome details I revealed here, I have to say it was a deep and excellent triumph of the human spirit. It will leave one walking out of the theatre moved.