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Monday, July 04, 2022

127 Hours

What strikes you the most about 127 Hours is not that James Franco,playing Aron Ralston,survived,but that you are never in any doubt he will manage it.

Written by Shalini Langer | New Delhi |
January 29, 2011 9:49:57 am

Director: Danny Boyle

Cast: James Franco,Amber Tamblyn,Kate Mara

Rating: ****

What strikes you the most about 127 Hours is not that James Franco,playing Aron Ralston,survived,but that you are never in any doubt he will manage it. Apart from the fact that the real Ralston lived to tell the story,every frame of 127 Hours is a portrait of bravery,strength and belief — and finally humility to acknowledge all that is more powerful than you. While a boulder crushing his hand is holding him down a 65-ft crevice,it is all this that makes Ralston,Franco,Boyle and finally us keep our eyes set on the sky above and not the hollow below.

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True to Ralston’s own account of the five-day ordeal and the video logs he kept,127 Hours captures the breadth of emotions a man who prides himself on his rock-climbing and canyoneering abilities goes through when brought down by a rock in what he considers his backyard. His journey from slight bemusement to growing disbelief,from rising panic to settling calm,from moments of extreme clarity to hours of nightmarish delusions,is expertly captured by Franco,especially in one video recording where he is the host on a morning show interviewing himself — a caller trapped in a canyon.

Working literally with just a rock and a hard place,where Boyle succeeds is in making this film as much about the present peril of Ralston as it is about his past and future. Through flashbacks,we get the picture of a happy child since grown to independent/selfish/cocky adulthood,one who has a loving family and a girlfriend trying to hold on to him,but who values his own “privacy” so much that on the weekend of April 2003 when he disappeared,nobody knew where he was. When he went missing for five days in the canyon,no one outside was looking for him — and this despite him being the kind of charming man who could talk two unknown women into dropping down a narrow crevice into a pool at his word.

In Franco,Boyle has got an ideal actor,who can be effortlessly charming and efficient,as well as intelligent and a little dismissive of others,without making one feel bad. He also seems intrinsically happy and satisfied —the kind of person to see light at the end of a tunnel or,at the very least,to shine a torch on it.

Cinematographers Enrique Chediak and Anthony Dod Mantle supplement by capturing the shadows and light of that narrow canyon and the harsh beauty of the landscape around it,crafting a world that can be many things and still the same unsurmountable wall to Ralston.

It’s just the kind of film to start making a buzz around Oscar time,and it has so far garnered six nominations — including two for A.R. Rahman. While Rahman doesn’t soar,his music has the right kind of feel-good that a film of this

nature requires.

Finally it is the strength of relationships that keeps Ralston going. After his bottle of water has finished,he starts drinking his own urine and slashes himself to have his blood,and he cuts loose his arm that’s holding him trapped.

In that sense,127 Hours is as much about coming up,as growing up. Ralston’s story of perseverance and Franco’s brave portrayal of it convey the sheer transitory nature of life,the smallness and yet the largeness of it. What is born in the small confines is not a hero,but a man,a little cocksure perhaps,who can find the heroism within him when needed.

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