The film stars James Franco (Pineapple Express, Spider-man) as real-life mountain climber Aron Ralston. The young mountaineer’s passion for adrenaline-pumping adventure takes him on solo expeditions to the remotest of areas.
During one particular outing in 2003, his escapade leads him to an isolated canyon in Canyonland’s National Park of Utah. Adventure turns to horror when a boulder crashes onto his arm, trapping him in total isolation in the wilderness.
Over the next five days, or 127 hours, as Ralston contemplates how to get out, he examines his life and survives the elements. And when he realises that no one’s coming to his help, he conjures up the courage to self-amputate his trapped arm, climb out a 65-foot wall and hike over eight miles before he is finally rescued.
Throughout his journey, Ralston recalls friends, lovers (Clemence Poesy), family and the two hikers (played by Amber Tamblyn and Kate Mara) he met before the accident.
The film is based on Ralston’s autobiography, Between a Rock and a Hard Place. Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy penned the story for the film which was shot on location in Utah.
The title doesn’t give the hint of a semi-biographical film. It resonates more of a horror flick or a suspense thriller. However, Boyle has yet again done a good job of bringing a drama to the screen that many thought would be a tad bit boring as its climax is known to the viewers.
But the buildup of the moment — of Ralston climbing down the crevasses, feeling the rocks as he casually walks through them, and then when the boulder traps him — brings viewers to the edge of their seats. The story of human endurance and how it denies death the chance of early victory, is something that the film exhibits really well.
Of course we get to see a lot of James Franco, as one would suspect. And he also doesn’t leave any stone unturned in putting in a stellar performance of a man standing at the end of the road.
Indian musician and song writer, A.R. Rahman, reunites with his Oscar-winning team from Slumdog Millionaire to compose music for this motion picture. However, don’t go looking for another Jai Ho! Just enjoy the work from the maestro.
The amputation scene has already been the source of much debate. Getting it right to the last detail was really important for make-up effects artiste, Tony Gardner and his team at Alterian, Inc. Helped by medical professionals, the scene was reportedly shot in one take (with multiple cameras) and every aspect of the scene needed to be functional as well as realistic.
At the Telluride Film Festival, two people required medical attention. Another viewer suffered a panic attack. Similar scenes were witnessed at the Toronto International Film Festival while during a press viewing in Holland, one person fainted while watching it.