Dir- Danny Boyle
Year – 2010
Running Time – 94 minutes
Screen writing Genre – Rites of Passage (adolescent passage)
Danny Boyles follow up to the Oscar winning Slum Dog Millionaire takes a completely different approach. It is based on the book ‘between a rock and a hard place’ which deals with the experience of Aron Ralston who finds himself trapped in a canyon in and fighting for survival after a rock falls onto his arm in Utah.
What’s in a name?
A fairly obvious title, ‘127 Hours’ refers to the amount of time Aron was trapped in the canyon. The title acts to emphasise the idea of the importance of time and the massive effort it took to survive.
What makes it great?
Without proper direction this could have been an incredible dull film. Clever editing techniques are used to keep us interested and really draw us into the claustrophobic world that Aron is trapped in. When He finally escapes the feeling of elation the audience feels has rarely been bettered. An outstanding performance from James Franco turns this into one of the most gripping films to be released for years.
127 Hours as an Adolescent Rite of Passage Movie
A rites of passage movie concerns stories about painful, but necessary growth and the emotional journey someone takes to get through a difficult period in their life. They nearly always end with the hero realising that life must go and it’s just a case of “that’s life”.
127 deals with the heroes struggle to leave his old ‘empty’ life behind and embrace his role within his circle of friends and his family. Basically, the film concerns an arrogant and selfish loner who needs to realise his mistakes and grow up in order to feel fulfilled. This story is common among the trials and tribulations of the move from adolescents into full adulthood.
Opening Image – A busy chaotic scene as a lone person gets ready for a trip. Then moving to the contrast of slow and peaceful as civilisation is left behind.
Theme Stated – We get several hints to the theme. First our ‘hero’ forgets to call his mother. Aron also leaves his knife behind. This links in with ideas of carelessness and feeling he is invincible. Basically, what we are dealing with here is the theme of needing to change knowing when to ask for help.
Set-Up – Our intrepid lone explorer seems invincible as he moves around the landscape, we will soon find out he isn’t. We get some characterisation through the short conversations he has with the two girls he meets.
B Story – Kicks in early. Our B story is our hero’s general relationship and feeling towards others around him. As Aron flashes back to scenes concerning people he knows he will learn his lesson and fulfill the theme of the movie.
Catalyst – The rock falls onto his arm.
Debate – He fights with the rock trying to get free. What to do?
Break into Two – at minute 22 we know are stuck in the canyon and the upside world has begun.
Fun and Games – Aron tries to free himself with ever increasingly elaborate plans. He lays out all his ‘toys’ on the rock to see what he has to work with. He, and we aren’t desperate yet.
Midpoint – The realisation sinks in that he can’t get out. Supplies are running low, the mood of the film becomes more intense and desperate. Aron makes his first semi-attempt to cut his arm off with the blunt knife.
Bad Guys Close In – Time is running out, Aron will die of first if he can’t get free. Literal dark clouds arrive and flood the canyon. We get a false escape in his dream, it’s all getting very desperate.
All is Lost – Madness and death are closing in any the minute. All the batteries, watches and timers are either running low or showing us the end is near.
Dark Night of the Soul – Aron begins to see his life flash before his eyes and he sees all his mistakes.
Break into Three – He knows he has to change. Light arrives in the canyon and Aron knows what he has to do.
Finale – With his remaining strength he cuts off his arm and escapes the canyon. Falling to his knees he screams “help me” “I need help”. This is the first time he has asked anyone to help - he has finally learnt his lesson.
Final image – Family, Aron has changed and become a better man for it. The change is undoubtedly lasting.