127 Hours is a true story of a mountaineer who becomes trapped by a boulder and must cut off his own arm to escape.
The film starts with some beautiful scenes of the American desert and gives a real sense of the space and emptiness of the environment. The light-hearted nature of the main character’s (Arun) acquaintance with some girls in the desert and their exploring also starts the film in a cheerful manner. Like all good horror/suspense films though, this doesn’t last long.
Due to the audience knowing that Arun will fall and become trapped, every initial fall within the first 30 minutes or so is potentially “the” fall and this builds suspense and drama. The fall, when it comes, and Arun’s growing realisation that he cannot move the rock and is trapped is an intense and somewhat uncomfortable piece of cinema. The scenes showing the emptiness of the desert environment are now even more poignant as it shows that Arun cannot hope to receive any help.
Some of the film is quite gory, and there is a lot of blood (unsurprisingly involved in the scene where Arun is forced to cut his arm off) but it is also thoughtful and I enjoyed the contrast between Arun’s memories/hallucinations and his situation. It shows that he must have felt very isolated but also very upset that he would be leaving his parents and their obviously close relationship makes the scenes where he films himself saying goodbye to them very sad.
Despite this being a review, I would have actually enjoyed the film more had I not known that he would escape, and read all the reviews of the film beforehand. Please forget everything you read about this above….oops!
Although difficult to watch in places, I would recommend seeing this film as it was exciting, dramatic and had some very touching scenes.
Jane Shields (Unverified), 06/01/11
Danny Boyle’s movies zing with a zest for life. Even his zombie, sci-fi or crime films. Not to mention Slumdog Millionaire. So no wonder he’s helming 127 Hours, the true story of a trapped climber who cuts off his own arm with a penknife. Because that’s what Boyle does best: use cinematic fireworks to visualise visceral emotion.
Aron Ralston (an impressive James Franco) is a hot wired adventurer never happier than mountain-biking in the American outback or wirelessly abseiling down a crevasse. One mistimed moment leaves him at the bottom of a ravine, his arm wedged behind a boulder. 127 hours later, he realises no one’s coming. And the rock’s not moving. It’s decision time.
Stories of audiences fainting when knife meets bone may be true. But they’re a disservice to Boyle’s achievement. He’s done horror (28 Days Later) – and this isn’t it. In fact, there’s little gore. 127 Hours is about a man coming to terms with a crisis. It’s also crash-course in cinematic fireworks. Aron plays mind games to help himself cope – remembering his family, seeing them on sofa in the canyon. Recalling the two girls he met earlier that day, his fantasy giving him warmth and comfort. Inventing a game-show-host alter ego, he ridicules his own predicament, the folly of a man who didn’t tell anyone where he was going.
Zippy edits, split-screens, heightened sound and image - Boyle unleashes his arsenal. Artful but not arty, 127 Hours is rooted in reality. Take the moment when it happens. Boyle cuts away – no pun intended – and conveys it with a nerve-touching, buzz-saw intensity of sound.
The premise – a man and a rock – is inherently uncinematic. But it was Boyle’s pet project even before Slumdog’s success earned him a green light. Packed with small-scale incident and filmed with Slumdog’s flexible hand-held cameras, it’s an intimate but universal experience. Putting the top on a water bottle. Having a pee. Using anything in your rucksack – including the rucksack - to survive a cold night. All one-handed. It’s a small-scale world indeed. But amplified by big issues. What would you think about, faced with imminent death? What would you regret not saying, not doing? That’s the real focus of 127 Hours.
A vanity project maybe and made with Ralston’s co-operation. But it’s a brave and intelligent movie, shot through with an effervescent and raw humanity.
Glenn Watson (DI Reviewer), 05/01/11
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