Oscar® Nominee for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actor in a leading role, Best Film Editing, and Best Music original score
127 Hours also known as “Between a Rock and a Hard Place,” “127 klukkustundir”
Reviewed by: Taran Gingery
Adventure Thriller Drama
1 hr. 34 min.
Year of Release:
September 4, 2010 (festival)
November 5, 2010 (limited—4 theaters)
DVD: March 1, 2011
“Every second counts”
Bicycling across desert wastelands? Scaling canyon walls? Free-falling into an underground lake? These are all activities that come easily to nature-lover and amateur adventurer Aron Ralston (James Franco). One April in 2003, though, a hike through Blue John Canyon, Utah, turns into a nightmare, when Aron falls into a ravine and finds his arm pinned to the canyon wall by a large rock. Hours turn to days as Aron frantically tries everything within his power to free himself, while trying to survive in a harsh environment without much food or water. Slowly slipping into delirium, Aron eventually begins to remember things and people in his life that he thought he had forgotten or that he had taken for granted and finds the strength within to do the impossible and make it through those 127 terrible hours. Based on an incredible true story and the book, Between a Rock and a Hard Place, written according to the video diaries Ralston made during his ordeal.
Directed by Danny Boyle, acclaimed moviemaker behind 2008’s Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours is a visual marvel. The scope of the barren Utah wilderness is at times both breathtaking and frightening. The cinematography is a mix of traditional filming and the shaky hand-held camera effect, which is thankfully not overused. James Franco, alone for much of the film, turns in a fascinating and intense performance. In terms of content, though, “127 Hours” more than earns its R-rating.
There is plenty of foul language, including F-words and S-words and a number of misuses of the Lord’s name (unfortunately, the only spiritual content). Sexual content is somewhat heavy, but mostly implied. Aron remembers when he and a bunch of young people, both girls and boys, strip off their clothes and hang out the windows of a car, shouting uproariously (no explicit nudity). Later, in that same car, sex is implied between him and a girl he met there (again, no nudity, but the girl moves her hand along his chest and down beneath his blanket, after which the scene ends). Towards the beginning of the film, Aron meets two hikers (played by Kate Mara and Amber Tamblyn) whom he convinces to strip to their underwear and swim in an underground lake. Later, while trapped, Aron watches footages of this on his camera and is tempted to act out his lust by pleasuring himself, but resists.
It is in the blood and gore category, though, that the film proves that it is not for the faint of heart. Aron’s initial fall and the crushing of his arm leave a bloody smear on the rock wall. Through the course of the film, Aron is forced to stab himself in the arm with a pair of pliers and drink his own blood. To survive, he also drinks his own urine (and eats his contact lenses). He almost drowns in a flash flood. Eventually, Aron is forced to cut off his arm with a blunt knife, the process of which involves first painfully and loudly breaking his arm in two places and then carving through muscle and tendon in an excruciatingly bloody and realistic sequence, from which the camera rarely turns away .
In spite of these things, Aron learns some powerful life lessons that audiences can take away from his experience. Aron realizes that his own pride and sense of self-importance led him to his situation, because he considered himself above telling friends or family where he was going, choosing instead to rashly set out on his own into a potentially dangerous wilderness. This pride caused him to take for granted those who loved him, especially his parents and his old girlfriend, long before he ever went on his adventure, and he apologizes to them and expresses his appreciation and love for them through his camera. Indeed, it is the flashbacks to and delirious visions of his times with his family and friends that keep him strong and prevent him from losing his focus altogether. Bearing a powerful message of its own, it is a vision of himself spending time with a potential future son that gives him the strongest boost of courage and hope that he needs to survive.
Ultimately, then, “127 Hours” is a harrowing story of the human will to survive and the importance of the people and relationships in our lives. It is a film that grabs hold and never lets go, until its gripping conclusion. However, it is certainly not a film for everyone and has too much blood/gore and immoral content to warrant a recommendation, except for the most discerning viewer with a strong stomach.
Violence: Extreme / Profanity: Heavy / Sex/Nudity: Heavy
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