"This rock... this rock has been waiting for me my entire life. It's entire life, ever since it was a bit of meteorite a million, billion years ago. In space. It's been waiting, to come here. Right, right here" -127 Hours
There comes a time in our lives when we are forced to evaluate all those decisions we had taken, the people we chose to ignore, the phone calls we never attended, the texts and e-mails we never responded to, when we nonchalantly brushed away the concern and love they had for us with no regrets. We never go through such self-catharsis when things look bright for us, when everything clicks, we do it when we are down in the dumps, when we are stuck Between a Rock and a Hard Place, the title of the novel the movie is based on. 127 Hours is more than just a triumphant story of one man, it shows more than just the man's will to survive, it not just shows him as a man who overcame all odds, but it also shows him in his most vulnerable, someone who wants all those chances back to make his friends and family feel special but never could because he was too self-involved and busy living life on his own terms.
Danny Boyle's "127 Hours" is based on a true story of Aron Ralston who had shockingly survived a little more than five days wedged between a rock deep within the cracks of Utah's Blue John canyon. Stuck between a rock into the cracks of the earth, and with no traces of any living being around Aron is forced to look back at all those moments he had spent with his family and friends, people from whom he had distanced himself, as he slowly comprehends the value of those people who had showered him with love and care. Things go great for Aron at the start, as a free-spirited charming mountain biking adventurer he encounters two lost trekkers Kristi and Megan and introduces them to the canyon which he calls as his "second home". He takes them to places and crevices which one could never imagine existing in the vast canyon, he charms them with his zest for life, he introduces them to his style of care-free, risk taking life as he slides between crevices splashing into an aquatic body that seems to surface out of nowhere. It all goes wrong for him when on his lone expedition he falls into a deep crevice with his hand sandwiched by a rock. Out in the middle of nowhere underneath the earth with his water and food supplies running out, Aron is pushed to the extreme by a stoic and unrelenting rock which refuses to budge even a millimeter.
With some brilliant photography, smart camerawork and slick editing, the movie has a racy feel to it. Boyle keeps the viewers hooked to the proceedings as he introduces us to Aron Ralston, brilliantly played by James Franco. Aron is introduced as a happy-go-lucky adventurer, unafraid to venture into the unknown. There is always a smile on his face even after a stumble leads him to fall off violently from his bike, he savors every moment of his adventure, a testament to which is that he clicks a picture of himself after the fall from his bike. The hand-held camera that tapes Aron's ordeal into the pit lends a "live" feeling to it, none of it seems edited, it all feels raw and real, more the reason to feel an empathy for Aron. Aron's care free attitude is slowly replaced by that of fear as he slowly comes to terms with the fate that will be meted out to him within the pit. With an arm stuck in a rock and not much to work with, Aron uses every tool at his disposal, he uses a blunt Chinese knife, a poor replacement for a Swiss Army Knife which was out of his reach as he packs his bag in the opening scene of the movie. You only wonder what if had he found his Swiss Knife?
With each passing minute seeming like an hour Aron pleads, wrestles, curses the rigid rock but to no avail. As a caged man isolated from the outside world, Aron undergoes all those feelings and emotions that one takes for granted- thirst, hunger, love and for a brief moment lust. He reflects on all those little events and people his life had shaped around, people whose presence he had failed to appreciate, the sunset with his father, videotaping his sister playing the piano as a young boy, the "I love you" mouthed by his girlfriend on a blizzard amidst other half-naked friends, the breakup that happens during a game of a basketball. It all happens in a dreamlike trance as Aron suffers from lack of food and water, close to death. Aron realizes all that he has neglected in one brilliant scene where he plays a morning talk show host interviewing himself. As the cynical host he interviews Aron the man who once considered himself a hero is now cut to size as a mere mortal battling death, as he waves hello to his family and friends and tells them how much he misses them, we can feel a sign of repentance in Aron.
James Franco breathes the role of Aron, he has grown on from the Spiderman franchise we once used to relate him with. As Aron he is smart, witty, carefree yet brings a vulnerability with him once he gets stuck in the crevice. His anger and pain, joy and fear are well documented by Danny Boyle who has delivered a follow-up much better than the grossly overrated "Slumdog Millionaire". With split frames, a hand held camera, only one actor in a closed hostile surrounding to work with Boyle does a great job. He captures Franco's emotion from his anger towards a rock, to the pleasing feeling of the sun's rays warming his feet with great skill. The soundtrack of the film complements the spirit of Aron, with "If I Rise" by A.R Rahman and "Festival" by Sigur Ros celebrating the triumph of the human spirit.
127 Hours has moments which would make you squeamish, bloodied moments which portray the depths to which a man is willing to go just to break free. Aron Ralston's spirit was unbreakable as that of the rock he was stuck to. Danny Boyle and James Franco leave no stone unturned in capturing Ralston's riveting struggle for freedom and in the process appreciating his new found respect for the people close to him.