127 Hours

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You’d think a film about a man stuck in a canyon with his arm wedged between a boulder and a wall would be quite boring until the decision to rid himself of the arm comes into play. As 127 Hours proves, this could not be further from the truth.


Aron Ralston (James Franco) is a thrill-seeking canyoneer going about business as usual in Blue John Canyon, Utah. As he is exploring crevices and rock formations, he slips and finds his right forearm smashed between a fallen boulder and the side of the canyon. The film chronicles the next five days as Ralston tries each and every tactic to release himself from the situation.

Since the story is extremely famous and inspiring, you spend the first twenty minutes waiting for the fall to happen. Director Danny Boyle does an outstanding job building the tension by focusing on Ralston’s hands and feet as he glides across the slick canyon walls and just when you can’t take it anymore, he falls. It is such a simple occurrence – and completely expected – but you are almost relieved when it happens so the “film” can start.

From there we get aerial shots of his solitude, raw camera work showing the desperation of the situation and a balance of video footage and memories to portray Ralston’s state of mind. Franco is excellently cast for his ability to toggle back and forth between the excitable Ralston and the survivalist Ralston. Once he is stuck, you begin to think, “How would I get out of this situation? Well, I’d do __.” Ralston proceeds to show you how he tried absolutely everything you could think of, and more from his expertise. He whittles (literally) away every idea you can think of and is still stuck with an ever-diminishing amount of water and supplies.

The process and steps Ralston takes to maintain his sanity are fascinating. From the scheduled raven flyby to the fifteen minutes of sun, Ralston keeps his mind working and occupied so as to not give up hope completely. Yet, as Ralston slowly descends into mental unsteadiness, the film follows suit with weird images and scenes to represent his thoughts and hallucinations (not the best inclusion, but largely irrelevant). Since his accident happens so early on, you begin to wonder about the pace of the film. This turns out to be a moot point because the story is so unbelievably engrossing you are too focused on following his thought process to notice that, in fact, very little has occurred.

After a certain point, you begin to take on his emotions as well. In particular, he imagines the Gatorade in his car and you physically feel your stomach drop in anguish for the poor guy. And just when you feel comfortable again, it comes. Almost without warning, he begins the dreaded process of ridding himself of the useless appendage. You’d think such a drastic measure would take some convincing and personal coaxing, but NO. He dives head first into it and they DO NOT sugarcoat it. Boyle, and Franco, wanted you to feel the unfathomable pain of Ralston and put yourself in his shoes. It is difficult to watch, and the three minutes feel like hours, but it is one hell of a process.

As Ralston goes, you go. He feels the stages of grief, and you follow. The only comparison for the tension of 127 Hours is the first viewing of The Hurt Locker. Get ready for a stress-filled ride and an all-around great film.

  1. I quite liked this one too. It’s almost impossible for me to imagine how a movie like this is filmed and directed. I think James Franco really excels here considering it’s just him on screen for like 95% of the movie. Great post!

    • I just found it amazing they not only made it a full length feature, but made it exciting from start to finish.

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