127 Hours

Directed by Danny Boyle
On general release from 7th January 2011

Reviewed by John Owen

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 for adventure

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.

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