127 Hours

Yep, it’s The Aron Ralston Story by Danny Boyle, coming to a theatre near you (!) November 5th. The trailer dropped a few days ago:

And it doesn’t look good. The word “dropped”, mountain biking scenes, coy female arms, and blue water pool brings to mind another use of the word dropped, something to which coffee is often antecedent. Yet depending on early reviews I might go see the film, in the hopes that the trailer plays up the goofy and sexual parts of Ralston’s book, while Boyle the serious director will put the psychological aspects front and center in the film itself (he’s described it as “an action film without dialogue”). As Touching the Void (2003) showed, this sort of material can be made into a gripping film, and certainly appeals to Boyle the artist. But can those two things also combine with a commerically viable film? Or did Boyle even care about that aspect (given that he’s said the success of Slumdog Millionaire (2008) allowed him to make 127 Hours)?

I’m interested in finding out.

I enjoyed Ralston’s book quite a lot. The more spectacular dimensions of the Blue John Canyon entrapment aside, the book uses that and other incidents (including a very close call with an avalanche) to ask some fundamental questions about outdoor adventuring, risk, and why we do what we do. Ralston did make some basic mistakes that exacerbated his entrapment: not telling anyone his plan (which we’ve all likely done), and not bringing much emergency gear (no clothing beyond a t-shirt, not enough water (in my opinion), though he did crucially have a (dull) knife). Yet the psychological essentials of his ordeal are universal when things don’t go as planned, and the grace and grit which got him out alive are things to which we can all aspire.

I hope Boyle did them justice.

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