Youtube circa 2010. The first ad of ’127 Hours’ rolled in onto the ‘YouTube’. It was about a friendly, crazy young man that would get trapped in the the rocks. That was it. That *was* the story. Interest spiked, of course this was one of those *inspiring* survivor stories. Wikipedia came to the rescue – telling all about the man Aron Ralston who would finally decide to cut away his arm to escape alive from the Grand Canyon. That was it – that was all that there was to 127 Hours. Many things were not clear then though – the decision to cut away the arm – could he not have escaped any other way, without having to cut his arm away? Its not like it was amputated or was scraped away in an accident… he decide to cut away. And boy am I happy to be proved wrong… so very wrong.
Danny Boyle has a very quirky director. It was apparent from the beginning that the story by itself would be a boring watch. A single man trapped between a rock with no way to escape. How often does this happen in our Indian films, a push, a nudge, a punch and the rock is pulverized. But then Danny Boyle is not your average Indian director – how much we might misconstrue from his work in Slumdog. And what a face is Franco gifted with… my my my. The face that can emote almost everything – a tried sleepless neo generation hippie, seeking his next shot of adrenaline, eager to get his highs running away from his loneliness; a loneliness he himself creates by running away from all that he holds close to his heart… and then turns more human like as the situation keeps changing from fun to incredulous to pain fear and to hopeless. Its amazing what that man’s face can emote.
Watching a single man for more than 60 minutes of a movie is no mean task. C’mon Franco is no Cupid, that everyone would be lost in his eyes swooning and lost for the complete hour. Danny of all understands this well. And inspite of having the camera place on top of the rock most of the time, the closeups are never too …. how would I put it Close?
The most important aspect of a movie is how the audience gets involved in the story. We go from being the jealous, nerdy nobodys in a high-school watching silently even with a bit of jealousy the hunk of the school getting all the fun, girls and the action. Slowly as we go through the motions, we see that Aron has his own quirks but he is still cool. And then as fate strikes we watch with a bit of amusement as we see him stuck in the rock – a minor accident. The small shards of bone and muscle stuck on the side of the wall though a bit unnerving are the only testimony to the unlucky accident. Its not like Aron is crying his heart out writing in pain. Its probably this absence of any emotional ode to the hand, Danny dehumanizes the hand and only makes it but inconsequential to his harrowing circumstances. It is infact reduced to being the main hindrance to Aron’s escape. The hand is only consequential – for all we could know it could have been a $200 MM byzantium that was stopping one to escape. Its not only Aron thats surprised to think that he himself got himself in such an accident – the audience is also left surprised. The fact that Danny brings on the accident suddenly makes the event all the more surprising. And its only matter of time that hope turns anger at self virtually kicking oneself in the butt to dreams of being able to come out of it and finally the dreary realization that all is not so well. The killing realization that this is it.
For us movie watchers from Telugu and Tamil have always had their mind filled with scene where Kamal Hassan hacks away at his arm in ‘MahaNadi’ in the climax – a chilling climax. In that sense we have been desensitized to violence of arms, legs getting hacked away. But the scene where in a bout of sleepless hysteria, Aron stabs his own hand was a forebearing of the things to come. Not the speak of the fact that early on in the movie, the hand does a awful lot many things, taking in the beauty of the rock in, holding his hand when he has a accident. But nothing prepared us for the loud thwack of the bone, the crushing and the loud break of the bone at the end. Most particularly the arm got reduced to a cord that was stuck around him, a clearly non-humanlike appendage that was stopping Aron from his sure death, probably thats the moment Aron decided that the arm was all gone and he would have to let it go, if he did not go with it.
Its one of the most gruesome scenes but Danny and Franco pulled it off – we cheered his run to his freedom. He earned it but sacrificing his arm – a story of true grit, logic and the testimony that human race has got staying power, much better than any of the other species – and at the risk of annoying the DinoGods, much better than the dinosaurs.