Celebrating Great Films

Sunday, January 09, 2011

127 Hours

#221 at time of writing.

Danny Boyle is a legend. He dares to be different, and his string of exceptional films has continually redefined the British film industry.

Many of us have seen a newspaper clipping and thought it would make a great story - Danny Boyle took Aron Ralston's visceral survival story and turned it into a film that is brilliantly conceived, excellently written and very stylishly directed.

The movie grabs your attention right from the off with Free Blood's Never Hear Surf Music Again (click the link for a free download), which sets the tone for a challenging and profound journey. The pace manages to keep you perched at the edge of your seat - with thrill, and then anguish - despite spending much of the screen time focussed at the bottom of one cavern.

For me, this is one to be experienced in a cinema rather than at home. Not for the beautiful scenery, but because I totally forgot I was sitting in the front row of Screen 3 of the Brixton Ritzy and I felt like I was there with him. That night, when I closed my eyes to go to sleep, images from the film ghosted before my eyelids.

James Franco's performance in the lead role is faultless. His reactions are often refreshingly unexpected, which adds to the realism and boosts the ruthlessly unsentimental treatment of the story.

Seeing the real Aron Ralston at the end made for an emotive finale, although a clip of the actual footage would have been the coup de grâce - a missed opportunity perhaps.

Ralston comments here on the authenticity of the movie: "They filmed in the actual canyon... the scenes in which I walk up to the spot where the accident happens were filmed there, then the actual accident – where the boulder tumbles – was shot on the sound stage, but from moment I am free they are back in the real canyon again. The rappelling scene is the actual place I rappelled, the pool I drink from is the real pool and the hike out of there is the same hike. The effort they went to bring all those details and that accuracy is incredible."

Check out this clip of Ralston talking about the amputation in situ. And while we're on the subject, here's the Top 10 Incredible Self-Surgeries.

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