16 March 2011

Survival

Last weekend I went to a cinema complex in northern Bangkok - ten minutes walk from my accommodation - to see "127 Hours". Directed by Danny Boyle, the film tells the story of a few days in 2003, when a young American outdoor enthusiast called Aron Ralston was exploring Blue John Canyon in a remote part of Utah. Accidentally, he tumbled down a crevice in the rocks where his right arm became trapped by a large rock he had dislodged.

As the hours and then the days pass by, Aron becomes more and more desperate to escape from this unfortunate situation. He sees visions of his family and of himself when he was a little boy. His water canister is empty. What can he do? Gradually, the inevitable dawns upon him - he must sever his arm with a useless Chinese knife his mother bought him for Christmas or he will die.

Ralston's part is played brilliantly by James Franco. In some senses, the tale might seem difficult to transfer to a movie format but Danny Boyle's creative vision is gripping, enhanced by wonderful cinematography and sound. At its heart there is the true life story of a man whose eagerness to live gave him the strength to administer a self-amputation without anaesthetic. Perhaps we might conclude that the moral of the film is that where there is a will there is a way. No matter how awful the circumstances, if you really want to survive you will find a way.

However, that same day we all heard about the dreadful events in northeastern Japan. I very much doubt that any of the thousands who have died there would have been able to relate to the possible moral conclusion of "127 Hours". When a tsunmai or a powerful earthquake come to get you, your hopes and dreams shrink into nothingness and there is no escape. As George Alagiah said on the BBC World News - the events in Japan remind us how ultimately flimsy and fragile is this "advanced" technological world that we have created.

But for me "127 Hours" was a super film and if you like that sort of tale, I would thoroughly recommend it.

6 comments:

  1. Ah, my son told me about this movie last night. I'd struggle to watch it, I think. Harrowing! I didn't even like watching the cam record of that guy who was trapped in an elevator over the weekend...

    Have you seen 'Touching the Void'. That's similar. I enjoyed that.

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  2. I don't care for "blood and guts and gore" movies and I imagine this one would have to be just that to be anywhere near authentic. But how did the chap do it without bleeding to death in the process?

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  3. KATHERINE It isn't as gory as you might think. I have heard of "Touching the Void" but haven't seen it. Thanks for the reminder.
    RHYMES There's only a couple of moments when you squirm in your seat. To limit the bleeding from his already dying arm, he made a tourniquet from his climbing rope and backpack straps.

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  4. My imagination has not been pricked by the subject matter but I would like to see this one...
    Danny Boyle is a cracking director...I wonder what he will do with the olympic opening eh?

    keep cool
    john

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  5. I'm too squeamish for films like this. It would be the cutting through bone bit that would get to me.

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  6. I've not seen the movie, but one of the networks had an interview with that young man. I doubt that I would have the presence of mind to handle things as cooly as he did.

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