Directed by: Danny Boyle
You’ve gotta give Danny Boyle credit. It’s a big leap from Slumdog Millionaire, his multi-Academy Awarding winning film from 2008 set in the teeming streets of India to 127 Hours, which is basically the story of a man and a rock.
127 Hours is based on the real-life adventure of Aron Ralston, a 27-year-old thrill-seeker who was trapped by a fallen boulder in a Utah canyon for six days, escaping death by amputating his own arm. The film is based on Ralston’s autobiography, the aptly-named, Between A Rock And A Hard Place.
I was curious to see how Boyle, who has one of the most kinetic filmmaking styles around, was going to deal with a film that was so sedentary. Boyle gets to release some of his pent-up energy in the first few minutes of the film as we follow Ralston (James Franco) racing through the Utah canyons on his bicycle and frolicking in a hidden pool with two female hikers he comes across who are lost.
The frenetic pace comes to a crashing halt when Aron’s arm becomes pinned against the canyon wall by a falling boulder. For the next six days it’s just Aron, the boulder, a small amount of food and water, a video camera and a pen knife.
Thanks to Boyle’s fine directing and Franco’s performance we are able to get into Aron’s mind as he realizes that his life may very well be over. The video camera is an invaluable tool in getting to know what’s going through Aron’s mind as are the hallucinatory flashbacks that Boyle puts together to portray Aron’s memories of his family and friends.
Of course the centrepiece of the film is the infamous self-amputation scene which was reportedly shot in one take with multiple cameras and is medically accurate. That may be…but chances are many viewers won’t see much of it as, if they are like me, they’ll be watching it with their hands in front of their eyes.
Still, it’s a powerful picture. As a DVD, I’m not sure if it stands up to repeated viewings, but it does deserve to be seen.