Directed by Danny Boyle
On general release from 7th January 2011
This film was a total revelation; I was expecting the single person format
promised, perhaps a slow and contemplative approach to things, but James
Franco kept the viewer with his gripping performance as he mused this
"whole life of mine was brought to a stop by a stupid rock trapping
me here". It was fate, predestination, written in the stars and nowt
you could do about it.
For those unfamiliar with this tale of human endurance and survival under
dire circumstances, the bare facts are Aron Ralston, a young, keen, athletic,
uber-active climber and cyclist got himself trapped in a canyon one day
and was forced to take the drastic measure of cutting off his arm to survive.
This is documented in his autobiography, Between
A Rock and a Hard Place.
The film however lifts it from the circumstances of a rock canyon, onto
a plane of existence and survival, from the fifteen minutes of sun on
his legs to the rain that nearly drowned him, to the food he left behind,
the phonecalls from mum he left unanswered, as he, like the rest of us,
shot off on the weekend to get away from it all and have no connections
or communications with the outside world.
As the story unfolds, he reveals himself a trained helper in the mountain
rescue service, a veteran of the game, that failed the cardinal rule of
telling people where he was heading. But as he tortures himself and as
his mind recalls the errors of his actions, it also brings premonitions
of his future or rather envisions the funeral of the lost little boy,
who playfully teases his littler sister, as she learnt the piano. Then
there's the love that he threw away in youthful exuberance and search
And now his final resting place is in a hole in the ground miles from
civilisation with only a cheap imitation camping knife to help.
He has a tombstone already carved by himself, like those first cave drawings
he passes on the way of the trail; people who first acknowledged their
existence to future generations carving and drawing their life onto the
cave walls. That gave them shelter and a home from the uncivilised world
outside the wild untamed ferocious beast, their sanctuary becomes his
prison and disconnects him form all and sundry.
He is off the beaten track alone and rapidly fading. Now no water, time
ticking away, rescue far off, time to act. The noise from breaking his
bones - thus making it easier to cut through his arm - bring home the
'what would you do in that situation?' No-one to see or hear him cry or
scream, or to comfort him, just himself and a will to survive and win
against blind, stupid, dumb nature, which is indifferent to life or death
so treat it with respect folks.