As reviews and reactions roll in on the film festival circuit, the media engine is shifting from a hum to a steady roar. Danny Boyle’s “127 Hours”, based on Aron Ralston’s famous showdown with an errant boulder in Bluejohn Canyon, is garnering impressive reviews from a wide swath of critics. Vanity Fair, Time Magazine, Scott Feinberg, and the New York Post, and the L.A. Times all gush over early screenings of the film, creating quite a buzz in not only the film world, but in the on-line canyon discussion groups. Despite the litany of cheesy outdoor adventure films like “Cliffhanger”, “Vertical Limit”, “The Cave” that have made life-like adventure movies a distant dream for most real outdoor adventure enthusiasts, there seems to be an inkling of hope for Boyle’s film. And with reviews like this, I’m guessing even the most proud and down-to-earth canyoneer won’t be able to resist the allure of “127 Hours” when it hits theaters in November.
As Steven Zeitchik of the L.A. Times explains, Boyle rejects the typical action sequences in the film in favor of more initmate, human experiences that actually make the movie MORE real, and thus MORE scary. A number of stories describe audiences tearing up during screening, as Ralston himself reportedly did at the Telluride festival. As with Between a Rock and a Hard Place, Ralston’s 2004 book about his dramatic experience, it’s easy to speculate as to whether Ralston is in this to relay a message about outdoor safety, the human experience, or simply to make a ton of money. And maybe all of these factors come into play – who knows? But I was interested in his comments in this movie from the Toronto Film Festival, and I like his efforts to frame the film as a story of the human experience. As a movie-goer and a canyoneer, I think the heart of any moving story starts there, in a place where we can relate to one another. I’m looking forward to seeing if I can relate to Ralston, via James Franco, in “127 Hours”.
Check out this fan movie taken from the crowd at the press screen in Toronto: