Skip to main content

Open Collection of Student Writing (OCSW)

127 Hours–Capturing Man’s Will to Live

A movie made for the sole purpose of showing the tenacity of Aaron Ralston, who’s arm was stuck between a boulder and a canyon wall. Survival movies made in Hollywood tend to run overdramatic for crowd pleaser moments; But with 127 Hours it does abnormally well in staying to the truth down to the small details. The movie is for the most part focused on Aarons will to live by using specific, complex methods, such as acting, track selection, and foreshadowing. Although there are several moments in the film where it does in fact deviate slightly from the truth.

Bringing to get out of his daunting situation, he has to cut off his right arm; Simple enough, the climax of the film is definitely one to be remembered.  You too would be surprised to hear that this film is one us the tenacity of a man named Aaron Ralston, whom authored the book “Between a Rock and a Hard Place”, brings us this film; 127 Hours. Starting with the well-known actor James Franco, he brings to pass this true event for us to witness the capabilities of one with a will to survive. The film is set up in the event of April 2003, when a 27-year-old energetic, avid, outdoorsman was hiking the trails of Utah and became stuck under a boulder which effectively smashed him arm and demobilizing him. It is of no surprise that hour and thirty-four minutes, and literally the whole film is on one guy stuck in the exact same spot for most of the movie. Interestingly enough, the film producers made it possible to make this film concept, and make it into a well-produced film. Although there are not that many characters in this film, they are used in a huge manner to the films relevancy.

Possibly the biggest difference from the reality of the situation that the movie made was Aarons encounter with the two lost hiker girls. In the movie, it shows that Aaron did in fact help the two girls by showing them where they were in the map and even volunteering himself to go out of his way to lead them to their destination. But they quickly escalating to them having a spontaneous adventure where they take a “shortcut” into a hidden blue lagoon that they take their time jumping into.  A rather fun part in the film where its right before Aaron is about to get stuck in the canyon. We come to learn that this was not entirely the case of what actually happened. (Felix Quinonez Jr, 2012) According to several movie reviews or “reality checks”

What actually took place was that Ralston did in fact find two lost hiker girls and did show them their way to the map, he did not have the little lagoon adventure are portrait as in the movie. It is honest that the film director wanted to bring forth a fun side before the terror pf the survival side of things. This scene that was improvised actually became relevant later on into the film where it did not alter the course of the film, but gradually amplified the message of Aaron being utterly alone. It happens when he is well into him being stuck. Noticeable signs of dehydration, increasing rate of symptoms of heart failure, Aaron has hit a low point where death is eminent. He pulls out his camera and starts looking through the pictures and videos of him with the girls. Along with the beautiful camera angles and actor portrayal by James Franco, you can see the need of belonging in his eyes, his ultimate suffering is not that he is physically in pain and degenerating, but his unfulfilled want of basic human presence. Then taking a wild turn to further amplify the emotions, Aaron, as he is watching a video of the girls jumping in their swim suits, begins to lurk his hand into his pants heavily implying that he was to self-pleasure himself with the intent to feel belonged. A very saddening moment in the film that really sold the message of his loneliness.

So we can see that although the blue lagoon scene was a huge stretch of the truth, it brought much further content that enriched the theme of the movie, for the better. Clear foreshadowing is shown greatly in this scene, as it is the event right before the traumatic event of becoming stuck in the Canyon. The timing of it should be noted as well. With his adventure with the girls, it was in fact a happy moment in the film with Aaron really liking them, and them to him. With this in mind the Director surely wanted to show the contrast of the two events happening within minutes from each other. Sort of the showing of a Bright Diamond over the dark color of a black velvet in a Jewelry store; to make the opposites pop up.

As we are seeing that a huge part of the movie is to make Aaron degenerate into a crazy person who suffers from physical and psychological depletion. There are no more memorable scenes in the movie than the part where Aaron is hosting a T.V. show as he plays the host, guest, and callers himself. A bold move into making look like Ralston has officially gone crazy is an ingenious moment in the film… that did not actually really happen in reality. The director himself has admitted that this did not actually happen, not admitting out of being caught in deception, but by accepting that it was fabricated to enhance the theme of the movie. (Felix Quinonez Jr, 2012)

If we are to look at it in the perspective of the film with its honest claim to bring character development into Aaron, it certainly did not let us down. It is simply one of the most memorable scenes of the movie. We can recall that this was now the point where Aarons eyes are blood shot, looks pale, and not delusional by acting out T.V. shows. It further drives the cause to share the struggles of Aaron. When you are making a film and manage to score a big name and legendary actor like James Franco, you know that the film director is going to use him as much as possible. The T.V. show scene would of not have had the same effect if the actor was not as talented as James Franco.

As the is doing the T.V. show he appears to be recording it with his camera; When he is quickly interrupted by gravel falling on him giving the perception that there might be someone hiking right above him, he screams with absolute insanity and helplessness stuck in his eyes. Another brilliant move by the director to show how Aaron is changing in his behavior. In the movies defense, even though this was completely fictional, it was not far from reality of what a normal human being would have done. It was not fictional that Aaron was going insane, or that at some point he spent his energy screaming for help. This is all completely relevant and amazingly added intensity to the movie that has limited options to work with, as again he is stuck to a rock for the majority of the movie.

Thirdly another way that the movie deviated from the original events, is the involvement of Aaron’s Ex-girlfriend. She plays a huge role in the films plot to give spice into the severity of Aarons isolation. The interesting thing about her is that she is never once shown in “real life” during the movie. She only does show up on screen when Ralston is either Hallucinating, dreaming, or having flashbacks. Never actually present. What an interesting role that she does have, and with the powerful display of her, it is full of foreshadowing.

Every single episode of her showing is a foreshadow that Aaron will be alone. In one instance where Aaron and his ex-girlfriend are in a basketball game, she asks “Do you want me to leave?” He does not answer as in implying that he does. And then as she is leaving her seat and him staying there she angrily half yells at him “You know, you will always be alone Aaron” Another is when Aaron is having a dream turn into nightmare that he escapes from the boulder by a flash flood alleviating the weight and he becomes free. First thing he does is go to her house and tries to speak as if asking for help. She stands there confused, as if asking to herself why is her ex-boyfriend here and why is he in such a panic? The song that is playing in the background, to add to effect, in a record player, is “If You Really Love Me” by Esther Phillips.

Strong use of emotions to show that If she really did love him, she would have helped him out. Because as it turned out, he was for some odd reason inaudible and got the door shut to his face. There are many more examples of the ex-girlfriend being used to help the plot move forward, in great ways that are amazing to see. But a confession by Aaron Ralston himself has mentioned that he did not think of his ex-girlfriend during his entrapment in the Canyon. (Felix Quinonez Jr, 2012) Take element out of the movies and we would have missed out on the amazing emotional attachment to Aaron that we felt. The amazing character development that took place by the dissociation of him and his girlfriend. Surely it was a great addition to the final installation.

We cannot forget the liberation scene that is ultimately the climax of the entire movie; the moment that we have been wanting to come. The movie itself has its own soundtrack that is specifically tailored to the important moments of the film. There is a track named “Liberation” which plays during the gruesome cutting off the arm sequence. The track itself fells like its portraying a tense moment, performing a careful task that it at high risk of failure. Such as a bomb squad working to find the right cable to cut so on a bomb that is hidden in a sports arena full of people unaware of the circumstance. Builds the tension greatly. And as he makes the grueling walk back to find help after his amputation, another great score plays which is called “Festival” by Sigur Ros. An incredibly perfect song for the situation; depicting strong emotions of racing towards victory. Getting the feeling of one working so hard that their end goal is just within reach, but they are exhausted, on the verge of collapsing but nevertheless they must endure.

This film required an incredible talented lead male actor to be on screen the entirety of the time, an ingenious director and near perfect execution in story telling for such movie to be even close to good. Not many film studios might be able to make a great movie about a guy stuck in one spot for ninety minute, it’s quite a feat. With the help of beautifully picked songs, and exiting foreshadowing, it was made possible.

Keywords: “127 Hours”, film review

By accessing or using any part of this site, you agree to not download, copy, or otherwise plagiarize its contents in any way.

Salt Lake Community College

4600 South Redwood Road Salt Lake City, UT 84123
Student Services hours: M - F : 7am -7pm
Enrollment Info: 801-957-4073 |