Thursday, June 16, 2011

127 Hours

I watched it. Oh, yes, I did. I'm not typically a fan of watching people cut their own arms off, but I am a fan of incredible, beat-the-odds, true stories. 127 Hours, a 2010 film now on DVD, was nominated for Best Picture, with James Franco nominated for Best Actor. The film was directed by Danny Boyle, who also directed Slumdog Millionaire, another great film.

The filming itself didn't impress me. I think it received those nominations because of the unbelievable, jaw-dropping story of Aron Ralston, who loved being out in nature so much he went into a set of canyons in Utah without telling anyone where he was going and ended up getting his arm pinned under a rock. He spent five days trying everything he knew to free himself and to survive on a meager supply of snack bars and less than one water bottle.

Yes, it's a painful movie to watch, not because of the gore, which comes only at the end, but because of the courage and determination of a man who never gives up, even though he fully expects to die.

It's rated R, appropriately and understandably so, and contains light nudity (mostly backs of people), the F-word (which I found completely understandable under the circumstances), and a scene of a man breaking his own arm and then ripping through skin, muscle, tendons, arteries, and finally nerves with a dull pocketknife. I watched that entire scene with a hand over my mouth, but I didn't look away. And, to be honest, bad as it was, it could have been worse. You'd expect that part to be full of screaming and pain, but either due to the choice of the filmmakers or due to the actual experience and shock of the man himself, the pain seem downplayed. The worst part is the severing of the nerves.

Though it wasn't really part of the story, I would have liked to see the aftermath of all this, Aron Ralston arriving at the hospital, telling his family, some sort of closure to the emotional drama. What we do see is him escaping the canyon and finding some hikers who call in help so he can be airlifted by a helicopter. You'd think severing his arm would be bad enough, but then the guy has to get himself out of there, and his sheer willpower is amazing.

I'm glad that I watched this movie, just to see that. Some might say, "Look how great the human body is, what it can endure," but I say, "Look how great God is, and what he made our weak little bodies capable of."

If you'd rather read about it than watch the gore, the autobiography (which I have not read) is 127 Hours: Between a Rock and a Hard Place, by Aron Ralston.

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