Director: Danny Boyle
Screenwriters: Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy based on Aron Ralston's novel
Runtime: 92 mins
Australian Release Date: 10 February 2011
Previewed at: The Reel Room, Sydney, on 19 January 2011
Based on the book Between A Rock And A Hard Place by Aron Ralston, Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours, is the true story of the adventurer’s determination to save himself after his arm was trapped by a rock fall in an isolated canyon in Utah.
The film opens with a high-energy track by Free Blood called Never Hear Surf Music Again. As soon as Aron Ralston (James Franco), leaps out at you onscreen, you get the impression that this is a young man who lives on the wild side and has a fearless streak, which ultimately helped him survive. He is packing to head off to go hiking without telling anyone where he is going, an act of complete arrogance under the circumstances. The invincible man…
En-route Aron meets a couple of female hikers, Kristi (Kate Mara) and Megan (Amber Tamblyn), who are lost. He shows them the way to wherever it is they are going and they spend some time together in an underground pool that was reached by letting themselves drop from a crevice straight down into the water. Is this an act of recklessness? No, not really. As it turns out, Aron has a good knowledge of the terrain and the act suggests that he has been there before.
Franco is perfectly cast as the young man who loves the wilderness and enjoys his own company. Once he is trapped, he battles the elements, he philosophizes about how he got himself into such a predicament and at one point observes that the rock was waiting for him all his life. A sobering thought for each and every one of us as we head towards our own fates.
He also spends time reflecting on his lack of communication with his family and friends. Boyle takes his audience through a scene where Aron breaks up with his girlfriend, Rana (Clemence Posy) and her parting words indicate that she feels he will end up alone. Even an acrimonious split could not have made for such a harrowing prediction.
Those who have read the book will know the horrific details of Ralston’s predicament. It makes for some nervous viewing, but Boyle handles it well. At no time do you feel like rushing out of the cinema. Well, not for the blood and guts, maybe for the circumstances. You do feel claustrophobic because of Aron’s entrapment and the sweeping views of the canyon add to the horror of being lost in the middle of nowhere. It makes you wonder what lengths you’d be prepared to go to if it meant surviving.
Boyle has managed to make a dynamic film, despite the static position of its protagonist. He does this by using a variety of techniques including spilt screens, mixed media and clever editing. The drama is further enhanced by the musical score by A.R Rahman, who is considered the man who redefined contemporary Indian music. Remember, Slumdog Millionaire. His soaring soundtrack is beautifully paced and subconsciously calms us as we go on a journey that we can safely say that most of us will never experience.