Loud, bright and crazy sums up 127 Hours, Danny Boyle’s latest film, as well as its hero drawn from real life. Otherwise it is an epic story of human endurance, troubled introspection and the all-consuming determination to live. It also reminds us not to buy cheap Chinese army-knives and to always, always leave a message when we head off into the wild.
One Friday morning Aron Ralston (James Franco), a mechanical engineer and mountain climber sets out on a hiking trip through Bluejohn Canyon, Utah. It doesn’t occur to him to tell anyone where he is going, so when a boulder crushes his hand and traps him in a narrow canyon passage, he undergoes five days of inhuman struggle for his life. 127 Hours recapitulates the true story of Ralston as recounted in his book Between a Rock and a Hard Place.
At the beginning of the film we find Ralston, self-sufficient and self-obsessed, skipping boldly from boulder to boulder before rescuing a pair young female hikers who’ve got lost, apparently with the sole intention of impressing them. When Aron has his accident, however, nobody comes to his rescue. Instead, he has to climb the meanest, toughest inner pathways in order to survive and experiences a transformation along the way, or as he put it – he becomes a better man.
Boyle and his cinematographers demonstrate a great deal of ingenuity in ensuring the story isn’t limited to the narrow cave in which Aron is stuck. Throbbing crowd scenes, stunning canyon landscapes, and unexpected angles on Aron are combined with quirky scenarios and memories flooding out of his delirious mind. All this makes the film a breathtaking cinematographic experience, yet another proof of Boyle’s imaginative and colourful directorial style.
Boyle and his co-writer, Simon Beaufoy, insistently repeat a single bold message throughout – no man is an island, not even a lonesome traveller hiking out in the
desert. 127 Hours opens with a series of overwhelming, deafening scenes showing the teeming mass of humanity: swarming stations, stadiums and streets. It is this big city life
that Aron is apparently trying to escape from, only to realise that he needs all those people he is running from.
The film debunks some favourite US myths. This is an American superhero who, instead of building a civilization out in the wilderness, is forced to reflect upon his life and admit
to himself that he has not shown enough appreciation for the people in his life, that he is just a human being who makes mistakes.
Audiences on the other side of the Atlantic might see it in a different light – Ralston has something of a heroic status in his home country – and they won’t be wrong, either.
127 Hours is a film about courage, transformation and survival. In Danny Boyle’s words: we all have something that crushes us, sometimes we need such a film to inspire us. Whether you feel crushed or not, watching 127 Hours will definitely make you reconsider the limits of human patience and endurance. Expect to be inspired!
Review by Teodora Gaydarova of http://teddyfilmreview.wordpress.com/