Danny Boyle, the man responsible for great films like Sunshine (2007), 28 Days Later (2003), and Slumdog Millionaire (2007) brought another hard-hitting, emotionally profound film to theaters.
127 Hours (starring James Franco) was adapted from Aron Ralston’s autobiography, Between a Rock and a Hard Place. It follows a know-it-all, wanna-be travel guide into Blue John’s Canyon… and abandons him there. Ralston is stuck for 5 days after his arm is trapped between a falling boulder and the wall of a canyon. He is unable to move from the spot, equipped only with what he packed on his back.
What makes the movie so riveting is the fact that it is an autobiography–almost all of the events did actually happen. This was a departure from Boyle’s previous work; he had mostly done sci-fi and horror, nothing that followed a truly unique story with basis in reality.
The movie starts out with fast-paced dance music which enhances the portrayal of Aron’s character as an adrenaline junkie. This film is jam packed with diverse, emotionally gripping music and even more intense silence. Boyle uses the silence to create suspense (rather than using spooky music) and to retain the realism of being completely alone. There’s a specific scene where the camera pans out to show the contrast between the tight space where Ralston is stuck and the vastness of the entire canyon, using silence as a way to emphasize its importance. This effect very strongly illustrates the intense dynamic between the natural world and the world humans have created; Ralston’s over-confindence is mocked by nature here by entrapping him.
What started out as an outgoing, happy-go-lucky film quickly turned into a dark desperation as Ralston struggles to stay alive. Danny Boyle captures more elements of reality in this film than in any others of his I have seen. While watching the film, I found myself feeling everything the character was feeling– fear, thirst, and hopelessness.
He wasn’t afraid to use different camera strategies such as time lapsing to display the ever-changing perception of time and how it shifts in different situations. Boyle gets up close and personal with Franco, even as he consistently gets nearer to insanity–and death.
I’m usually not picky, but when it came to this movie, I noticed a lot of little things that bothered me. There was a lot of product placement. It may or may not have been real corporate product placement, but it was extremely prevalent throughout the entire film.
In Ralston’s fridge at the very beginning of the movie, there were Pepsi products (like Mountain Dew) and Gatorade. His camera was shown over and over again to display the Canon logo, and all of his gear was name brand and clearly shown.
Guest stars in this movie included Amber Tamblyn, who is well known for her character Tibby in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, and Clemence Poesy (Fleur Delacour in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire)!
Everything we have is taken for granted, from the people we love to the water we drink, and the message of Aron Ralston’s story is that we may never fully appreciate the worth of something until it’s gone, or we are. Simple mistakes will always keep piling up until the consequences are so big they come to crush you between a rock and a hard place.
127 Hours is probably one of this year’s top 10 movies. The acting is achingly realistic, the cinematography is beautiful, and the story riveting. I highly recommend it to all students; it made a dull night into something really special.