Horizon at Sandy Point

Monday, February 21, 2011

127 hours

Aron Ralston (James Franco) sets out alone for a weekend trek - bike, run, hike - into the desert wilderness somewhere in Utah. The beauty of the land, open skies and Aron's energy are overwhelming. Perfect nature. Perfect man. Even his encounter with two other day-trippers -  Kristi and Megan - apparently on a casual stroll - turns into a pleasant idyll. Slipping through a crevice, a smooth sided crack in the earth into an underground pool holds no terrors for Aron. The girls leave and he continues on his way.

Maybe in his mid to late 20s, Aron is fit, athletic, loves music - everything happens to the soundtrack on his mp3 player - and  is at home in the wild canyons. His hand caresses the honey-coloured sun-kissed rocks as if they were alive. Such grandeur. Even when you know that the boy is cruisin' for a bruisin' - because it's too perfect, too beautiful - you can't help being captivated by both the landscape and Aron's comforrtable trekking.

Danny Boyle - Slumdog Millionaire - treats the impersonal but impressive expanse of the desert canyons as if it were a character. The country around Moab Utah is voluptuously breathtakingly awe-inspiring, but so cold and unmoving, as Aron finds out. Trapped for more than five days (127 hours), he first chips away at the rock that has wedged his hand. He sees hawks and jet trails as daylight slips across the ten degree arc above his head. There is a shred of hope that the desert downpour might flood his crevice and lift the rock that has wedged his hand. He gets some to drink but the water doesn't rise high enough. Hunger, thirst, cold give way to hallucinations and dreams. Finally - 127 hours - he knows he has to do the unthinkable to get out of earth's grip alive.

The true story of Aron who had to cut off his hand to survive may seem to offer many lessons - don't go off alone without letting someone know where you've gone - but there's no moralising here. Like Slumdog, 127 Hours has no self-pity, it's a story about living fully on the earth. It is a triumph of spirit, and should be seen.

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