Aron Ralston is currently a known author, public speaker, and mountain climber. Prior to all these achievements, he was a piece of flesh stuck between a rock and a canyon. “127 Hours” is the thrilling and horrifying movie about Ralston, his ambition for adventure, his painful accident, his right arm, his will to live, and his cheap, Made-in-China multi-tool.
Before Ralston stumbles upon that loose rock, we see him always moving. On his feet, inside his car, riding his bike, the man refuses to stay still, which must have made things all the more difficult for the man who cuts his hair. These moments are accompanied by Danny Boyle’s eminent style of directing. I am not sure how to describe it, but it can sure make the sight of James Franco riding a bike feel exhilarating. Through the right use of quick cuts and split screens, Boyle signifies the wild nature of Ralston. He keeps moving, and moving, and moving, until he slips, and comes to a halt. Here we go.
What is to be witnessed from that point on is both an achievement in filmmaking and a triumph in humanity. The movie “slows down” as Ralston remains stationary, but it is here where “127 Hours” and Aron himself become most compelling. He is now trapped by himself, with few supplies, in the deserted canyons of Utah. I have never been stuck in a canyon before by myself, but I believe the most terrifying thing here is the thought of never being found alive.
As he continually fails to release himself, Aron undergoes physical, emotional, and mental drainage. He has eaten every ounce of his food, and is depending on the few milliliters of water he has to keep him alive. When that finally runs out, he recycles his urine in desperation, if you get what I’m saying. Throughout the movie, Danny Boyle makes us stay with Aron. We are asked to share his burden and thoughts, his grievances and frustrations. Somewhere around the movie’s midpoint, you might feel guilt as you gulp down your cold, abundant beverage with your hydrated, free arms.
In his “break” from moving, Aron has no choice but to settle down and, think. Here, he thinks about what he’s done, who he is, and who he is to others. He thinks, hallucinates, and thinks some more until he figures out his reason behind his predicament. Early on, he knew what he should do to free himself, and it is an act almost unthinkable and surely unbearable. He never actually does it for these reasons until he uncovers his ultimate motivation, and that is redemption from the imprudent decisions of his past. This leads to the movie’s most harrowing and gripping moment.
Today, Aron Ralston claims that he has regained a life more than he has lost a limb. What a guy. We could learn a lot from this man, and I’m not just talking about safety lessons when exploring deserted canyons.