They always say that the best in a man comes out when he is in trouble and has back to the wall. 127 hours proves it right again and Danny Boyle who is well known for his Oscar winning ‘ Slum dog Millionaire’ comes back to make a bio pic of a mountain climber Arol Ralston. The story is all about survival of a mountaineer who by mistake falls into a trap and his hand trapped between mountain and boulder. He doesn’t have anywhere to go and no help forthcoming and is left to fend himself and help himself. The film is all about how the man pulls himself outside the trap after 127 hours and at what cost?
This isn’t an easy film to make considering that that the film has just one character for almost 90% of the runtime and he is limited to 4 feet space most of the time. Now with the constraint of character and space, Danny Boyle is left to weave the plot with tight screenplay to keep audience in their seats for 94 minutes and I should say he has succeeded in doing so. The film started with a free spirited Arol Ralston leaving on an adventure and shows a hidden pool to few girls and the scene keeps you on the edge. The taking is fabulous and the camera work is just amazing. Soon he finds himself in an isolated canyon with a trapped hand. As it happens with many men when isolated and trouble staring at them, he spends time thinking of how to save himself and reminiscing the moments with family, friends and lovers who obviously give him hope and strengthen resolve to survive and live. His bottle of water dries up down his throat and the camera that he is carrying gets on verge of drying up the battery. He finds no respite and the only solution he could think is unthinkable- cut his hand off. The scenes showing the cutting off the hand are very violent and we ourselves relive his pain and agony. Cutting the handoff he comes out and the scenes showing him running to a pond filled with dirty water and drink water truly shows the comeback of the man and filmed superbly without too many superlatives. His thirst is unquenched and when he finds few tourists who spot him, he comes back to life and we can see in eyes. The journey of Arol Ralston spanning five days is picturized superbly and you never find yourself bored. The few scenes- cracking of the bone, cutting off the nerve and consumption of water bag filled with urine are unbearable for the viewer but truly represent the desperate situation of the loner.
Danny Boyle has succeeded in making a film with a lone character in a limited space and this could be a true lesson in film making. James Franco who played Arol did superb job and any superlatives in describing his acting proves according to me would be less. Cinematography by Enrique Chediak and Anthony Dod Mantle is first class. The scenes cannot be anything but extreme close-ups in the canyon and the scenes are spotless and could show us expressions and pain very well. The aerial and long shots showing Grand Canyon are fabulous and motivate us to hike them. Camera work in dive shot into the hidden pool is breath taking and takes us thru the dive.
AR Rahman provided music for the film and the background music adds to the mood of the film. On the whole the expedition is nearly flawless but leaves us restless and brings us out of theatre with a lot of hope on life and resolve to survive despite any hindrances.
by Brahma Mahesh