Monday, December 13, 2010

"127 Hours" - If Only All Films Could Have Such Heart.

We all know this is an incredible story of fortitude and survival, but for it to be presented in such an inspiring, thoughtful and insightful way is truly a thing of beauty.  Danny Boyle, who brought us "Slumdog Millionaire," "28 Days Later" and "Trainspotting," takes on a completely different genre and does it the right way.  "127 Hours" is based on the true-life adventure gone wrong of Aron Ralston (played by James Franco, with the perfect combination of grace, heart and spontaneity - he is an actor of the highest caliber and will surely garner an Oscar nomination.)  Aron is a 28 year old hiker/mountaineer who goes for a day hike in Canyonlands, Utah, and becomes trapped in a ravine with his arm pinned by a boulder.  Aron is a free spirit who is reckless, looking for excitement in the outdoors and seems convinced that he is invincible.  He therefore ignores the warnings to always tell someone where he is going and ignores the questions from his family who are always wondering where he is.  On his way into the canyon, he encounters two women who are somewhat lost.  He helps them find their way (off the main path, of course) and then sends them on their way.  Not long after he leaves them, he falls into the ravine.  For the next 127 hours, Aron does everything he can to free himself, using the only sharp instrument he had - a free "survival tool" his mother had given him.  The beauty of this film is the depiction of his slow realization that he will surely die where he is.  His thirst becomes overwhelming and when the hallucinations start, we learn more about who Aron is and what his life had been like up to this point.  He is sure that his recklessness has led him to this spot and that he deserves it after the heartache he must have caused his family by his frequent disappearing and his inability to commit to those who love him most.  He realizes his selfishness as he records his thoughts and feelings on his video camera.  He has one last hallucination that sets in motion his determination to get out of that ravine at any cost.  The scenes of his self-mutilation are hard to watch but they are mercifully short and by the time they happen, you are so invested in seeing him live that you cannot turn away.  You will cheer and cry as he walks out of the ravine and stumbles upon a family who happen to be hiking nearby.  His shouts of "help" will ring in your ears long after it's over.  It's a story of the power of the human spirit and a story of familial love.  I dare you to see it and not be deeply and profoundly touched. 

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