“Aron Ralston is the man. Now I wanna go hiking.”
I’m going to start out by saying that I didn’t really have a desire to watch this movie. Then I heard that people were puking and passing out during the scene when Aron Ralston cuts his hand off. NOW it has my attention.
But did I feel it warranted vomit? Not really. Then again, I have a fairly iron stomach when it comes to stuff like that.
If you haven’t heard the news by now of Ralston’s 2003 ordeal of having his hand trapped under a boulder for five days before cutting it off to survive, shame on you. 127 Hours is the real-life story of that weekend adventure gone horribly wrong. If I was trapped by a boulder for five days, I would probably cry a whole lot, thus dehydrating myself more quickly, and expediting my horrible, agonizing end. It’s a good thing Ralston is much more of a man than I’ll ever be. He methodically and rationally inventoried his supplies and set about planning and executing various attempts of escape before submitting to the awful inevitability of removing himself from what trapped him there, his right forearm. From the excerpts I have read from Ralston’s book Between a Rock and a Hard Place, the movie does an excellent job of conveying the details of how he made it through those days, the memories he played over in his head, and how he eventually managed to escape.
It would take a really strong performance as the ill-fated hiker to pull off a movie so focused on that one character and to be honest, I did not have the faith in James Franco and for that, shame on me. At times goofy, but more often brutal and serious, Franco provided an excellent and convincing performance, fluidly moving from carefree adventurer to panicked victim to sullen defeat. The biggest surprise was how intensely I reacted to his rescue; I was completely unaware up to that point of how invested in the character I was. I also worried the removal scene would be overly dramatized and drawn out in typical Hollywood fashion; as if the thought of self-amputation with no anesthesia after not having water for three days isn’t horrific enough. But congratulations to Danny Boyle for making it honest and realistic and for not going over the top. As a medical student, I appreciated the attention to detail, the viscosity of the dehydrated blood, the unimaginable pain portrayed when he arrived at the nerve cord. As a movie fan, I loved the quick pace and artistic style easily recognized as Boyle’s. And as a human being, I respect the ordeal Aron Ralston went through and the strength of the human will to survive.
Bravo, movie. Bravo.