Saturday, February 05, 2011

127 Hours - A review

'127 Hours' by Danny Boyle is based on the true story of climber Aron Ralston who ventured into the gorgeous Blue John Canyon in Utah back in 2003. He had not informed anyone where he was headed and wasn't carrying a mobile phone either. While there, he runs into two girls who seem a tad smitten with this carefree, risk-taking, self-confident young man. Their admiration for him extends to them inviting him over to their party that's taking place later that night. Aron tells them he'll be there and heads on further.

Just moments later, Aron's tryst with fate begins. While exploring a dangerous canyon drop, he trips and falls. What falls along with him is a now dislodged boulder that ends up jamming his right arm firmly against the wall of the canyon. It is the moment this happens, that the look on Aron's face (played by James Franco) changes colors instantly. This incident takes place about 15 minutes into the movie and it is then that the credits read – '127 Hours'.

Aron is now trapped hopelessly. His lung busting screams are to no avail in that uninhabited wilderness of rocks and dust. With an extremely limited supply of food and water, Aron now has to figure out a way to get out of there. He has to gather his thoughts by constantly reminding himself not to panic and carefully plan his escape. He has to figure out what he will take, and more importantly, what he will leave behind. Either he can die there with all his limbs intact or get out of there by making some tough – extremely tough - decisions. With just a blunt pocketknife to help him make this life altering move, Aron begins his battle to stay alive.

The title of the movie is essentially about two things – one, about the duration of his ordeal in that cave and two, about the time he needed to make the choices he eventually ended up making. Somehow, the second aspect mentioned here seems the primary focus of the story. It is in these 127 hours that Aron sees images from his past, present and future as he hallucinates back and forth between his family, ex-girlfriend and friends. He records all the goings on via his digital camcorder and camera including some confessions. He even etches a crude obituary to himself on the cave's wall convinced that he'll probably not make it out of there alive. But is this really what he truly believes? Or would he rather snap his arm against the cave's wall and chop it off to break free?

The film isn't violent per say yet has a beautiful poetic shade of human suffering. There is something both entertaining and tragic to watch a rational human being trapped mercilessly under a boulder. While it certainly highlights just how vulnerable humans really are, it also acts as a reminder that there is no such thing as a 'lifeless nature'. Aron's monolog as to how that boulder – possibly a product of billions of years of formation – was just waiting for the day the two would meet, truly highlights the core essence of the story. It is a test of his willpower in the face of nature's little gauntlet that has been thrown at him. It is also a reminder to the rest of us that nothing is ever permanent. Even something as simple as a drop of water can sometimes become the only reason for our desire to live. This reminder, more than anything else, is the true horror of '127 hours'.

James Franco is brilliant as Aron Ralston. Despite the physical constraints of being stuck in one single position for most of the movie, James brings to the screen a wide plethora of emotions which make us feel with him, fear with him, empathize with him and finally, root for him. Boyle excels in this form of storytelling where a piece of rock ends up becoming such an integral part of the narrative. Visually, the film captures the rocky mountains splendidly as does the apt soundtrack by AR Rahman. It is this juxtaposition of human fragility against a product of billions of years, that makes 127 hours a memorable, relevant and inspiring watch.

3 reflections:

Maharana Ganesh said...

I don't watch English movies as they never entertain me. However, I must say, your reviews definitely help me get up to date with English movies and with English writing as well.

Thryza Dow said...

Amazing post

ShaK said...


Thanks for the words mate. Glad you found this useful!