127 Hours - There's no freaking way I'm cutting my arm off
I watched 127 HOURS last night for the first time since the film was released in 2010 and, let me tell you, the film holds up stronger than a giant rock whose weight is being held in place by the crushed hand of an adventure-seeking nature bro.
Danny Boyle directs the hell out of this survival horror tale, based on the true-life experience of Aron Ralston, a canyoneer who got his hand trapped behind a dislodged boulder in an isolated slot canyon in Bluejohn Canyon in Utah. Noted sex creep James Franco plays Ralston, bringing ample "sex creep" energy to the role, including in a scene in which Ralston, hand crushed and water supply dwindling, begins to masturbate to paused footage of a young woman’s cleavage.
Danny Boyle is one of the most consistently exciting directors working today. 127 HOURS could have been your standard isolated performance piece, giving a young actor the chance to grimace and groan their way through selling to audiences the pain of having to cut through their arm with a dull pocketknife – and 127 HOURS is all of those things – but under Boyle’s direction, the film also becomes a transcendently edited multi-media collage, capturing the dwindling strands of sanity that Ralston attempts to clutch onto as he is trapped in that canyon for the titular 127 hours.
As somebody who frequently goes on really stupid adventures by myself without telling anybody where I’m going, 127 HOURS hit uncomfortably close to home. I really do need to start leaving notes.
But, in the end, friends and casual acquaintances usually know where I've wandered off to because of my too-frequent social media posts. If I went missing, folks would only need to turn to my Twitter and Instagram accounts to begin the search. Ralston’s similar obsession with recording himself with multiple cameras – before, during, and after the accident that left him pinned to a canyon wall – is an eerie prediction of our current social media obsession.
Ralston chronicles his self-chosen solitary life for an audience of … who, exactly? Does he have any friends? Any close ties with his family? Ralston seems determined to be a transient presence in his own life, living for thrills and adventures rather than any actual human connections. Why, then, does he keep taking selfies? I actually had to stifle a giggle when, at the end of the film after Ralston has sawed through his arm in a traumatic, blood-soaked scene more savage than any horror film I’ve watched this year, he takes a moment to take a quick pic of the bloody, detached arm left wedged between a rock and a hard place before he scurries away in search of help.
I loved 127 HOURS – maybe even more than I did when I saw it in 2010. Besides just being a beautifully directed film that tells the story in an innovative and interesting way, I appreciated the film’s message of hope, perseverance, and the importance of human connections. Ralston is saved, in the end, because he has a vision of his family and what he’d be giving up if he died in that canyon. That need to survive, to live the rest of his life, led to him doing the unthinkable to his own body. Life, uh, finds a way.
For the record, no amount of visions would get me to cut off my arm. I’m sorry – I’m a big baby when it comes to pain. I cut my index finger this weekend and am currently typing this blog with only nine fingers.