Re:View – ‘127 Hours’

The Arts

If it wasn’t for James Franco and director Danny Boyle, this true story of Aron Ralston, the climber who got his arm stuck between ‘a rock and a hard place’ (the title of his inspirational memoir) would simply have become another of the ‘Trapped’ sub-genre of thrillers like ‘Open Water’, ‘Frozen’ and the like.

Boyle’s big idea is to open out the action with split-screen work, dazzling cinematography and an enthralling soundtrack by A R Rahman (who he used for ‘Slumdog Millionaire’) in order to show Aron as a man whose independent free spirit has possibly managed to work against him, by making him so independent in the first place that he has ended up here.

Aron’s hopes, dreams and memories do more than just flesh out the running time – they set Aron in context, and also serve to remove him from humanity. He’s certainly a guy who prepares before setting off to run/ bike the wilderness (although the absence of a mobile phone would be unthinkable now). But the one thing he fails to do is take his Swiss army knife.

Consequently, when he becomes wedged, he has a choice – die, or amputate his arm with a blunt, cheaply made blade. Supposedly audiences in Toronto were passing out during the long arm-removal scene. I can’t think why, because Boyle isn’t making a horror film and doesn’t shoot it that way. However, the film is intense, and Franco’s committed performance – he’s on-screen for virtually every frame – stops it from being a one-note film.

‘127 Hours’ plays out with a surprisingly kinetic energy. Ultimately it’s not much more than a simple tale about the determination to survive, a popular cinema staple, and it won’t work so well on a small screen – but it’s impeccably assembled and performed.

2 comments on “Re:View – ‘127 Hours’”

  1. Helen Martin says:

    Out here on the Wet Coast we’ve always had a low opinion of Toronto inhabitants. Weird when you realize how many of the Vancouver population come from there.

  2. Alan Morgan says:

    Once again we see supported this terrible bias within the film industry and I for one am disgusted. I think you, the readers of this blog and anyone that might have come into contact with us all should feel shame. How many more times will we have to endure the lies and distortions of mainstream film where once again, here, we see peaceful rocks blamed for man’s crushing desire to fall off things? The number of rocks that peacefully hurtling through space wish to collide with earth is less than at best, a dozen. And whilst as here on a more local level the rock concerned is indeed a wild, feral example of the kind this is clearly it’s own habitat and so was most likely provoked by Mr Ralston. Perhaps with a pick.

    This is typical townie balderdash. Not knowing enough about the normally peaceful rock, you fear it. Worse having only experienced some primped up and polished toy rock the assumption is that the more natural, even majestic examples are to be treated the same – and then reviled by acting as their instinct demands, by falling often slowly on people drinking smoothies.

    For shame.

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