Canyon courage a grip­ping tale

Kapi-Mana News - - ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT -

Other­wise known as the ‘‘movie where the dude cuts his arm off’’, 127 Hours runs the risk of for­ever be­ing de­fined by about 180 sec­onds – the scene where canyon climber Aron Ral­ston does, well, you know what.

With news re­ports of movie­go­ers keel­ing over in their seats and suf­fer­ing seizures, it would a shame if dis­cus­sion and ap­pre­ci­a­tion of this pic­ture is re­duced to that one scene.

Sure, it’s pretty in­tense and hard to watch – which has as much to do with James Franco’s per­for­mance and sound-edit­ing as it does graphic dis­mem­ber­ment – but greater fo­cus should be lev- elled at Franco’s per­for­mance and di­rec­tor Danny Boyle’s abil­ity to reap such stun­ning, ar­rest­ing vi­su­als from within the canyon crevice where Ral­ston is stuck for three-quar­ters of the pic­ture (the pic­ture was filmed on lo­ca­tion).

One Fri­day evening in 2003, prob­a­bly on a whim, the ad­ven­ture-seek­ing 27-year-old drove from Colorado to the Cany­on­lands of Utah for a week­end of moun­tain­bik­ing, climb­ing and what­ever else got his heart pump­ing. He didn’t tell any­one where he was go­ing.

While he was hik­ing through Blue­john Canyon, a boul­der be­came dis­lodged and pinned Ral­ston’s arm against the canyon wall. Alone, with a back­pack of pre­serves and tools, he chron­i­cles his plight on a video cam­era, un­til his se­verely de­hy­drated, deliri­ous mo­ment of truth: death or dis­mem­ber­ment.

This predica­ment, that would nor­mally be re­told on TV in some cheap movie-of-the-week, in­stead gets the royal treat­ment. Boyle ( Trainspot­ting, Slum­dog Mil­lion­aire) is a mas­ter at fus­ing fre­netic cin­e­matog­ra­phy and mu­sic, and it’s to full ef­fect here – even when Ral­ston is re­duced to a sta­tion­ary pil­lar of hope.

Through his cam­era footage we are trans­ported into his thoughts and mem­o­ries of fam­ily, the lover who got away, and the hope to one day be a fa­ther.

He re­alises how self­ish­ness and a ten­dency to shut him­self off from oth­ers has de­fined his re­la­tion­ships and wedged him to­wards his im­me­di­ate fate.

I’ve al­ways been a fan of Franco and it’s great to fi­nally see him dom­i­nate a dra­matic pic­ture. His per­for­mance, par­tic­u­larly in the darkly comic scene where he in­ter­views him­self (break­fast TV style), is as good as any other from 2010.

As for that scene, it’s sweaty palm stuff, but if a wuss like me can han­dle it (I close my eyes watch­ing ER), it will be bear­able for most. At times har­row­ing, 127 Hours is a life-af­firm­ing tribute to the hu­man spirit.

the hu­man spirit.

Out on a limb: James Franco goes it alone and de­liv­ers an ex­cep­tional per­for­mance in the true life sur­vival tale 127 Hours.

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