Movie Review Friday: 127 Hours
Escape to the movies with one of our Movie Review Friday selections. Each week we review a film with an environmental theme that's currently in theaters or available on DVD. Seen a good eco-flick lately? Send us a short review and look for it in the next Movie Review Friday.
127 Hours (2010)
Danny Boyle's first film since his award-winning Slumdog Millionaire tells the true story of how engineer and outdoor enthusiast Aron Ralston gets trapped in a desert canyon for five days with only a bottle of water and a little food. He escapes from his predicament minus an arm; many of us have heard (or read) the story.
We first see Ralston packing for a trip in the dark hours of an early morning, hurriedly cramming items into his pack. When he noticeably forgets his Swiss Army knife, we can't help but cringe. And he doesn't leave a note about where he's going. At this point, our impression of Ralston is not a genius outdoorsman, but a foolish kid.
Soon he's in Utah's sun-soaked desert, hiking and biking Blue John Canyon. He knows the area well, even musing that he wishes he could be a trail guide here. The thrill Ralston gets from the outdoors is intoxicating, and we feel his exhilaration. But then he plummets down a crevasse and gets caught standing up with his right arm stuck firmly under a boulder.
While this may not seem like the most exciting premise for a feature-length film, 127 Hours is exceptionally high quality. It never feels like a marathon, thanks to intriguing flashbacks and Boyle's insightful direction. Much of the credit also goes to James Franco, whose brilliant turn as the cocky yet capable Ralston is worlds apart from his lazy drug dealer in Pineapple Express.
Franco makes it so that, despite Ralston's missteps, the audience stays rooting for him throughout the whole excruciating ordeal — so excruciating, in fact, that people in theaters have fainted and vomited during the scene in which Ralston severs his arm to get free.
Yet the film is full of hope, nostalgia, spirituality, and humor. And when the cutting happens, we can see why, and even how, Ralston does it. What's more, we're glad we saw it. There's a certain heroism in his ability to stay calm, and in his willingness to trade his arm for his life. As the film ends, we're left feeling a kinship with the wilderness, and with our fellow man.