Sunday, December 5, 2010
Review of "127 Hours"
If you've read "Born to Run," you will remember that Aron Ralston was given free admission to the Leadville 100 in 2004. Race co-founder Ken Chlouber offered Aron the chance to do Leadville, a very tough mountain race, without paying the entry fee. This baffled some people: everyone paid the entry fee. Even the defending champ paid. Why special treatment for Aron? "He is the essence of Leadville," Chlouber responded. After watching "127 Hours," you see what he meant.
You no doubt heard the story in the news back in 2003 when a hiker in Utah cut off his own arm to save his life after being pinned in a canyon by a fallen boulder and trapped for 5 days. That ordeal is chronicled here. For a majority of the film, we are stuck down in that canyon with Aron. We witness his slow deterioration: desolation, starvation, dehydration.
And yet, this is not a difficult film to watch, not even when Aron eventually cuts off his own arm with a cheap, rusty pocket knife. It is a very entertaining film. It exists in the moment. We are right there with Aron as he analyzes the absurdity of his situation and the stupidity of his decision to not tell anyone where he was going.
He isn't glorified as a hero. He is just a guy who did what he had to do to live. The will to survive is incredible. Humans are wired to cling to life at all costs. Not everyone gets to explore this base, primal survival instinct.
Could you cut off your arm to survive?
What Aron did was really something. He tapped into a part of his nature that few people ever explore for themselves, and yet, I suspect most people have the inner strength to do just what he did.
What director Danny Boyle has done here is create a visceral experience. The story is simple, but the emotions that carry us through the story are lasting and real. The movie becomes profound.