Many moviegoers know that 127 HOURS is based on the true story of a young man whose right arm got pinned to the wall of a desert canyon by a heavy boulder...and that he had to cut off part of that arm to save his life.
I didn't really want to put myself through watching a feature film about his terrible ordeal, but I finally took the chance, and I'm glad that I did.
James Franco plays Aron Ralston, who at the beginning of this film, is a daredevil adventurer. He feels so invincible he doesn't even bother to tell anyone that he's going hiking in Utah's desert canyons alone.
When he unexpectedly meets two lost young women miles from anywhere, he pulls them into his youthful exuberance, sliding down a narrow crevice to plunge into an underground lake. But soon he is off on his own again with no idea that he will soon face imminent death.
As he climbs down into another canyon, a boulder he had been standing on gives way, tumbling him to a narrow ledge below and crushing his right forearm against the steep wall.
For more than five days, Aron is trapped in the deep crevice with no hope of anyone finding him or hearing his cries for help.
What a challenge for filmmaker Danny Boyle (SLUM DOG MILLIONIARE)---to make the ordeal of those 127 lonely hours compelling. He's helped by a gutsy performance by Franco and the talents of two top cinematographers and a great editor.
The real Aron Ralston carried a video camera with him. he used it as a kind of diary and to say goodbye to his parents. that video proved invaluable to the filmmakers.
But 127 HOURS also shows us this young man's dreams, memories, and hallucinations as Aron comes to understand that the people in his life matter more than he ever realized.
Standing in what could become his own grave, Aron has a premonition of having a son, and that's part of what motivates him to use the very boulder that's trapped him to break the bones in his right arm and then to hack away at his own limb to free himself.
Make no mistake. 127 HOURS is tough to watch, but it's also an uplifting, even inspiring movie. Aron's gift of continued life after what looked like certain death reminds all of us how lucky we are to be alive.
Unfortunately, 127 HOURS ended its theatrical run here two days ago, but it's readily available on video.
You also may be interested to see the special program Tom Brokaw with the real Aron Ralston, re-visiting the scene of his nightmare ordeal in 2004 just six months after his miraculous escape. Here is the Youtube link: