Wednesday 19 January 2011

127 HOURS - A Life-Changer

At its core, 127 HOURS has some simple messages: call your parents, let them know you love them. Commit to things. And if you're inclined to disappear, let the people who love you know where you are. Why? Because when you're caught between a rock and a hard place; these are the only things that matter.

We know these things because Aron Ralston says so. He's the guy who really spent 127 hours  stuck in one place with the near certainty of his death.

Movies have a tendency to get bigger and crazier and louder. But life isn't like that. Life is really simple; it's about showing up and being a good person. That's what being wedged in by rocks reminds you. Aron wouldn't change that experience for anything. It's like the lightning flash of insight that Michael J. Fox got when he left the neurologists office in New York all those years ago after being diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. It wasn't the premieres and free parties that mattered; it was his wife and kid. We forget that.

The story of 127 HOURS is no mystery. He cuts off his arm in order to survive. I gave away the ending. But endings are always certain. You're gonna die and I'm gonna die, I'm certain of that, but it's not the ending that matters-- it's all the pain and joy in between.

And Danny Boyle's latest movie is full of pain. When bones break and arms are sliced into; you feel it. Richard Pryke and Ian Tapp didn't win Academy Awards for sound re-recording mixing for nothing. They made SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE sound real, and they did it again in this one. When Aron slices up his arm, you feel it in your body. The people sitting near you come alive -- whether they throw their arms in front of their faces or whether they lean further towards the screen; everyone reacts. It's gruesome. But it's real. This is pain and you have to keep watching because only by being present for pain do we see the true beauty of pleasure.

There's a moment about half way through when Aron is talking into his camera that will break your heart. Because he talks about wishing he'd called his Mother back and he talks about what a selfish ass he is and you realise he's talking about you too. The difference is that you can be a better person without chopping your arm off.

I don't know how 127 HOURS will feel on a second viewing and I don't know how it will feel on a DVD, so I hope you go to the cinema to see it. THE KING'S SPEECH is a solid movie and THE SOCIAL NETWORK is super slick, but 127 HOURS reminds us of the truly unparalleled simplicity and genius of the cinema.

Care to share?


  1. I was squirming in my seat when I watched the arm scene. James Franco was so great in that scene when he interviewed himself.

  2. Couldn't agree more. Simplicity is such an important part of fiction. And at the heart of things like 127, we see how complex simplicity can become if it is treated correctly. Enjoyable read, Kid.

  3. At the moment this is my undisputed #1 film of the year. I do think it's a movie that benefits greatly from a theatrical viewing (though the one I attended was full of right idiots).

  4. Wow...for a few weeks now I was beginning to think i was nuts with calling this film the best of the year. like somehow I'd projected something into it that wasn't there.

    But reading this tells me that I wasn't totally nuts...and that the emotional connection I felt for the film was real.

    Basically, I just want to thank you. You've essentially become the person standing next to me when I see something completely extraordinary happening. That person who I can ask "You're seeing this too...right?"

  5. Glad you loved it!! This is #2 in my top 10 movies of the year. I think too much is being made of "the scene". In reality, it took him 4 hours to cut off his arm, and the scene in the movie is what? 7 or 8 minutes? Yes, it's graphic and painful-looking but it's never exploited.

  6. Absolutely brilliant movie. I couldn't even get my hands down from my face during the arm scene because I could really feel it. This movie is so simple yet so very moving. I'm glad I watched it...and The King's Speech too!

  7. I think it's an amazing movie - surely it teaches a lesson that you need to let someone know where you are going....always!

  8. I totally agree. 127 Hours really blew me away and was so well done in every way.

  9. Saw it at the West End Vue last night. An incredibly involving movie.

    Franco is great - supremely likeable throughout, wildly intense in all the right places. The audio track is incredible; in the money-shots, covering your eyes doesn't help, because the soundtrack squeals and bites in such an evocative way. Danny Boyle ties it all together - what a great and versatile director :)

    As I drifted towards sleep last night I was gripped by this terrible fear that I'd sleepwalk to the kitchen, grab a butterknife, and ... seriously, that scene is going to haunt me for days.