127 Hours is an incredible movie; it transports us on a big, wonderful journey about life, which is ironic, since ninety percent of the film physically takes place in a small, cramped canyon where the protagonist, Aron Ralston, is unable to move. Aron makes a mistake, or rather several mistakes, that lead up to his predicament, and is left with hours, 127 hours to be exact, with which to think about how he arrived in his current state. Of course, as people so often do in dire situations, Aron thinks about and imagines more than just the mistakes that lead directly to his dilemma. There's the fact that he didn't pick up the phone when his mother called on that fateful Friday afternoon while he was getting ready for his excursion, which we find out as the movie goes on is a perfect microcosm of his attitude toward all of his close relationships. Adding salt to the wound is the reality that had he picked up the phone and told his mother what he was doing, there would at least be hope of a rescue team once he was reported missing.
Moving aside for just a moment from all of the sub-plots we can take from within Aron's head (and believe me there are many), the movie itself is executed in a marvelous way. This is due in no small part to the collaboration of James Franco, who plays Aron Ralston, with director Danny Boyle. Boyle's decision to use two cinematographers, Anthony Dod Mantle and Enrique Chediak, also proved instrumental to the film's overall feel. The cinematography perfectly captures the vast Utah wilderness and illustrates to the audience just how very alone Ralston is. The filming of the scenes that take place within the canyon is superb as well. Perhaps, the most striking fact is how very real the entire experience feels. Whether this is a credit to Franco, Boyle, or the cinematographers, is difficult to say, but most likely all of the above. As soon as Aron falls down the canyon and realizes he's trapped, you too feel the panic of the situation. When he utters a simple "oops," all that is needed to sum up his dire state, it's as if you are teleported right into the picture. This is exactly what makes the physical parts of 127 Hours so powerful. Not only do you appreciate and marvel at Aron's story, but it is very easy to imagine and feel as if you are indeed trapped under a boulder. This is only accentuated when the scene in which Raltson cuts off his arm finally rolls around. There is nothing pretty about it; the cracking of bone and severing of nerve is grotesque and not meant to be something pleasant to watch. It is unusual for pain, gore, and butchery to be so real in a movie. However, since the scene is shown with such realistic grit, once again, the film makes us feel as if we are there, and causes us to ask ourselves, what would we do if in Aron's position? A question that is impossible to answer until after such an experience, but one that, nevertheless, makes us think.
The film provides an almost perfect representation of the horrible reality of being trapped under a boulder. It makes us question ourselves and wonder aloud while, perhaps, most importantly taking us on a truly remarkable journey filled with life. The impressiveness of it all is that although 127 Hours has numerous allegorical undertones and metaphorical meanings, there is no one set lesson or moral that everyone is supposed to take from the movie. Each person is free to interpret the events in his own way. One could view it as a smiting of arrogance, while another might see it as a perfect example of why never to give up. Still, someone else might argue that the message is simple: stay logical and do what you have to do in order to survive. Each person's experience with the movie will be a little different, but one thing's for sure, the next time Aron Ralston hears the phone ringing he won't let it go to voice mail.
Overall score: A very impressive 8/10, with its only flaws being a few ill-timed flashbacks, and a mildly awkward video camera scene where Ralston pretends to be both the talk show host and interviewee. The film is simply fabulous, though, and anyone who doesn't see it should be the one saying "oops".