Looking Back at 2010s Films: 127 Hours (2010)

1 Oct

Image result for 127 hours movie

By Tanner Smith

SPOILERS…but Deadpool already spoiled this movie, so what difference does it make?

Continuing my series of posts about 2010s films I really like, saying “127 Hours” is a film about a guy who cuts off his own arm is like saying “It’s a Wonderful Life” is about a guy who gets drunk and crashes his car.

(I stole that simile from Chicago film critic Richard Roeper–sorry to say I’m not as witty as he is.)

But seriously though, “127 Hours” is one of my favorite movies…and I say that despite never being able to watch THE SCENE all the way through in the eight years I’ve seen the movie multiple times.

You know THE SCENE. It’s gotten a lot of publicity, especially since moviegoers who saw THE SCENE supposedly fainted at test screenings and some had to be taken away from cinemas by paramedics. I saw this film in a theater with my parents–we had trouble viewing THE SCENE too. Even though we all knew it had to happen, we weren’t ready for it to happen.

For me, it’s not just seeing the action happen–as a film buff/film student, I know it’s latex and rubber and corn syrup and whatever else they could use to make the effect as graphic and realistic as possible. It’s not just that…it’s the SOUND DESIGN. Just hearing the bones break and James Franco’s agonized yells and ESPECIALLY the sounds the nerves make when they’re about to be severed (sounds like an electric guitar string)…NOT FOR ME.

So yeah, I usually skip the climax of the movie and yet I still call it one of my favorite movies. WHY??

THE SCENE is inevitable, the film took its time earning the important moment, and because it’s so important that it had to happen, of course director Danny Boyle was going to go all out in showing the audience HOW it was going to happen. THE SCENE had to be in the film…I just skip through it, is all.

Why do I love this movie? It’s a film with a concept that’s as minimalist as you can get–our main character is trapped in stasis for five days–and yet, it feels bigger than it is, thanks to Boyle’s unique hyperactive directing style. Despite our character, Aron Ralston (played by James Franco in an excellent performance–he’s another important reason this film works so well), being immobile, Boyle went all out in making sure we’re being inside the character’s mind as it rushes through all sorts of emotions of anger, sadness, freedom, confusion, and more. He illustrates Aron’s frenzied mental state beautifully. We even get a little black comedy as Aron imagines being on a talk show talking about his situation. That’s typical Boyle.

Not that the opposite approach (to make us feel as trapped as the character) wouldn’t work–in fact, “127 Hours” came out the same year as “Buried,” which was about a guy trapped in a coffin and we’re trapped inside the coffin with him, and it turned out to be a pretty solid thriller.

And when all is said and done, I understand everything Aron went through and why he had to do what he did in order to survive and start his life all over again. It also begs the question, “Would YOU do it?” I’m not so sure I would, but then again, if I were trapped in a canyon for five days and had no other alternative……

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