127 Hours (2010)

R | 90 or 93-95 mins | Adventure, Biography | 5 November 2010

THIS TITLE IS OUTSIDE THE AFI CATALOG OF FEATURE FILMS (1893-1993)
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HISTORY

The title card appears approximately sixteen minutes into the film. The film contains many visual effects, such as frequent intercutting, and images presented in splitscreen and triptych. Some sequences are presented through the viewing screen of video camera or through the bottom of a water bottle. Intermittently throughout the film are depictions of the dreams, memories and hallucinations of “Aron Ralston” that he experiences while trapped in the canyon, but the filmmakers intentionally blur the lines between reality and imagination. Hallucinatory sequences are often tinted yellow-gold.
       In an epilog before the end credits, a montage over music depicts Aron’s life after his five-day ordeal, showing Aron hiking, rappelling and skiing, despite the loss of his hand and forearm. In a surreal sequence during the epilog, Aron swims to the edge of a pool, where he sees his family and friends sitting on the living room couch placed beyond the pool’s edge on the grass, just as he saw them during one of his hallucinations, but the vision is in true color rather than tinted. The sequence continues in split screen, depicting Aron in the pool, juxtaposed next to an image of his hallucination of a little boy sitting alone on the couch. The real Aron Ralston is shown seated with his wife, Jessica Trusty, on the couch, followed by a shot of the couple with an infant. A written statement reports that Aron’s premonition in the canyon came true after he met Jessica and when their son, Leo, was born in Feb 2010. The film ends with a sequence of more shots depicting Aron’s athletic triumphs and a final written statement reporting that he continues to climb ... More Less

The title card appears approximately sixteen minutes into the film. The film contains many visual effects, such as frequent intercutting, and images presented in splitscreen and triptych. Some sequences are presented through the viewing screen of video camera or through the bottom of a water bottle. Intermittently throughout the film are depictions of the dreams, memories and hallucinations of “Aron Ralston” that he experiences while trapped in the canyon, but the filmmakers intentionally blur the lines between reality and imagination. Hallucinatory sequences are often tinted yellow-gold.
       In an epilog before the end credits, a montage over music depicts Aron’s life after his five-day ordeal, showing Aron hiking, rappelling and skiing, despite the loss of his hand and forearm. In a surreal sequence during the epilog, Aron swims to the edge of a pool, where he sees his family and friends sitting on the living room couch placed beyond the pool’s edge on the grass, just as he saw them during one of his hallucinations, but the vision is in true color rather than tinted. The sequence continues in split screen, depicting Aron in the pool, juxtaposed next to an image of his hallucination of a little boy sitting alone on the couch. The real Aron Ralston is shown seated with his wife, Jessica Trusty, on the couch, followed by a shot of the couple with an infant. A written statement reports that Aron’s premonition in the canyon came true after he met Jessica and when their son, Leo, was born in Feb 2010. The film ends with a sequence of more shots depicting Aron’s athletic triumphs and a final written statement reporting that he continues to climb and canyoneer, but always leaves a note giving his location.
       End credits contain a disclaimer stating that cycling is prohibited in Horseshoe Canyon and certain other areas of Canyonlands National Park, and that neither actor James Franco (“Aron Ralston”), nor the real-life Ralston cycled outside of authorized trails within the park. Makeup effects designer Tony Gardner’s credit reads: “Make-up Effects Designed and Created by Tony Gardner and Alterian, Inc.” A combined credit for two music coordinators reads: "Samidurai and T M Faizuddin." Some crew members’ names were misspelled onscreen, among them, production supervisor (additional unit) Craig Ayers, which appears as Criag Ayers; make-up effects person Ginger Cervantes as Ginger Crevantes; Color Mill’s digital workflow engineer Russell Lasson as Russell Larson; and assistant chef Caesar Sanchez as Ceasar Sanchez. The end credits contain a memorial to best boy electrician, Dave Stoddard (1948—2010), who died during production.
       The end credits also contain a “special thanks” to the Utah State Legislature and Office of Economic Development, as well as several companies, among them, BBC Motion Gallery, Historic Films, Getty Images and other companies that provided images that were used in the film, as well as producer Miles Levy, the advertising agency Ogilvy & Mather, The Coca-Cola Company and Perrier and Nestlé Waters. The film contains excerpts from television commercials for Sunkist Soda, and theme music and images of “Scooby-Doo,” the cartoon character created by Hanna-Barbera.
       According to a 24 Oct 2010 LAT article, in 2003 Aron Ralston was a twenty-eight-year-old, former engineer, who had devoted himself to mountain climbing and canyoneering. A 15 Dec 2010 Guardian (London) article reported that he had quit his job at Intel Corporation to climb all of Colorado’s “fourteeners,” i.e., mountains that peak over 14,000 feet. As depicted in the film, one Friday in Apr 2003 he left his home in Aspen, CO without informing anyone of his plans and drove to Canyonlands National Park to rappel and view the ancient petroglyphs in Horseshoe Canyon. As in the film, Ralston became pinned in a narrow slot in the Bluejohn (also known as Blue John) Canyon area by a dislodged chockstone that crushed his right wrist and trapped him for several days. Aware that his remote location and diminishing food and water supply made rescue doubtful, Ralston eventually chose to sever his forearm with an inexpensive knife to liberate himself from the boulder rather than face certain death. As in the film, Aron then rappelled one-handed down a seventy-foot slope and walked several miles before he found help. National Park Service employees later retrieved his arm, but it was too damaged to re-attach, so Ralston later had the limb cremated and its ashes scattered at the canyon.
       Ralston recorded his experience in his book, Between a Rock and a Hard Place , which was published in 2004. According to 127 Hours studio production notes and a 24 Oct 2010 LAT article, Ralston hoped to adapt the book into a docu-drama similar to Touching the Void , the 2003 film about climbers in the Peruvian Andes Mountains, and signed with John Smithson, the founder of Darlow Smithson Productions, the company that made the film. The Oct 2010 LAT article stated that they interested Alex Gibney, a documentary photographer, in the project but were unable to get financing at that time.
       A 7 Nov 2010 Boston Globe article reported that producer-director Danny Boyle, who was interested in adapting the story, met with Ralston in 2006 and submitted a treatment, but Ralston was committed to making an authentic recreation of his experience in a documentary format. However, after the success of Boyle’s 2008 film, Slumdog Millionaire , Ralston was more receptive, as by then he realized there was little interest in funding documentaries. The Boston Globe article continued, stating that Boyle credited part of Ralston’s new openness to changes within him after he married. The studio production notes stated that Boyle suggested Ralston’s story to his producing partner, Christian Colson, who was at first reluctant, but changed his mind after seeing Boyle’s six-page treatment, which related many of Boyle’s visual ideas for telling the story. During a meeting in London, Colson and Smithson agreed to co-produce a dramatic feature film based on Boyle’s treatment. Production notes stated that after Boyle completed two drafts of the script, he and Colson asked Simon Beaufoy, who had worked with them on Slumdog Millioniare , to assist with the writing.
       Production notes reported that the writers hiked with Ralston to the Bluejohn Canyon, and Ralston shared with them details of his experience, such as how he held the knife when he cut off his arm and how he made a sling to sleep in. Ralston also allowed them to view the video messages he made for his family during the ordeal. The filmmakers later recreated the exact equipment that Ralston had carried in his backpack, in particular the inexpensive multi-tool with the dull knife with which he cut off his arm and the same amount of food and water. According to the 24 Oct 2010 LAT article, they agreed to accurately depict, with Ralston’s help, details of climbing gear and agreed to make the film without resorting to avoid product placement.
       According to the production notes and the 24 Oct 2010 LAT article, the writers’ intent was to tell the story of Ralston’s transformation, rather than his heroics. As described in the production notes, before his entrapment, Aron was “a perfect specimen” in that he was “self-sufficient, independent, athletic, resourceful, ” but, as described by the 24 Oct 2010 LAT article, he was also “hedonistic,” “narcissistic” and “concerned with ego-fulfillment.” The production notes state that when he lost contact with his family and friends, he came to realize over the course of his entrapment how important they were. In the LAT article, Boyle stated that for him the film was about “the pull of the crowd” and the need to return the rest of the world. It was the story of Ralston’s desire to reconnect with life that interested Everett Entertainment to help finance the film, according to production notes.
       The writers confined most of the action of the story to within the narrow canyon and focused on Ralston’s state of mind, rather than include sequences depicting the outside world’s awareness of his disappearance and the rescue effort initiated by his mother. Although Ralston wanted total accuracy, the production notes reported that the filmmakers had to make some dramatic liberties to provide a saleable story in which the protagonist could neither move around nor converse with other characters. Another hurdle was to recreate the self-mutilation without alienating the audience. Colson noted in the LAT article that they “sacrifice[d] small truths to honor the larger ones.” One change the filmmakers made was to enlarge the book’s brief mention of Ralston’s former girlfriend to dramatize Ralston’s selfishness before his experience. Although the character of Rana figures largely in the film, in the LAT article, Ralston explained that it was his thoughts of his family that most filled him during the ordeal. Another addition to the film was the hidden pool sequence. In real life, according to the 15 Dec 2010 Guardian (London) article, Ralston simply demonstrated some basic climbs for two female hikers he encountered early in his trip. Despite these changes, according to Ralston in the Guardian article, the film was almost entirely factually accurate. One element from the book that was left in the film was Ralston’s hallucination of a young boy that hinted at his potential future as a father.
       The film was made by Boyle’s Decibel Films, Colson’s Cloud Eight and Darlow Smithson Productions. Boyle had a three-year production deal with Fox Searchlight and Pathé Pictures. Several actors were considered for the role of Aron, according to the 7 Nov 2010 Boston Globe article. According to a 4 Nov 2009 Var news item, Ryan Gosling was rumored to have been considered, but ultimately Franco was cast. A 26 Oct 2010 Var article reported that Boyle decided to have two cinematographers, Anthony Dod Mantle, who had won an Academy Award for his work on Slumdog Millionaire , and Enrique Chediak, who had worked with Boyle on 28 Weeks Later . In the production notes, Boyle stated that having the multiple approaches of two perspectives was used to compensate for having few characters. It also allowed for a compressed shooting schedule, which helped Franco to maintain his creative energy while working in a tight space for hours, according to the production notes.
       As noted in the end credits, portions of the film were shot in Utah. The production notes stated that portions of the film were shot in the exact spot where Ralston was trapped, although a replica of the boulder was used, as the original had been removed. The 7 Nov 2010 Boston Globe article reported that the cast and crew camped at Bluejohn Canyon for a week while shooting some canyon sequences. However, the majority of filming, according to the Boston Globe article and production notes, took place on an exact replica of the canyon on a Salt Lake City soundstage. No trap doors were used in the replica, so that filmmakers entered the space one at a time. According to the 24 Oct 2010 LAT article, the amputation scene was filmed in Mar 2009.
       The 26 Oct 2010 Var article reported that principal photography lasted seven weeks using a staggered schedule. For panoramic and aerial scenes, 35 mm film was used, and Silicon Imaging and Canon digital cameras were used for about seventy-five percent of the film for close-ups. The article stated that digital filming made working in a small area easier. To avoid unintentional writing over digital images, the work was sent to Salt Lake City processing house, Color Mill, while film stock was sent to Los Angeles for processing.
       127 Hours had its premiere at Telluride Film Festival. According to a 31 Oct 2010 LAT article, several audience members at the Telluride screening and other preview screenings fainted or collapsed during the amputation sequences.
       In addition to being named one of AFI’s Movies of the Year, the film received Academy Award nominations for Best Motion Picture, Best Actor (Franco), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Editing, Best Original Score and Best Original Song (“If I Rise”), and Golden Globe nominations for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture—Drama (Franco), Best Screenplay, and Best Original Score—Motion Pictures. The film also received Independent Spirit Award nominations for Best Director and Best Feature, and Franco won an award for Best Male Lead. Franco was also nominated by SAG for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role. In addition, Danny Boyle & Christian Colson were nominated by PGA for The Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures and Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy were nominated by the WGA for Best Adapted Screenplay. Suttirat Larlarb was nominated by the Art Directors Guild for the Excellence in Production Design Award for Best Art Direction in a Contemporary Film. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Boston Globe
7 Nov 2010
Section N, pp. 10-11.
Daily Variety
7 Sep 2010.
---
Daily Variety
26 Oct 2010
p. 2.
Guardian (London)
15 Dec 2010.
---
Hollywood Reporter
7 Sep 2010.
---
Hollywood Reporter
29 Oct 2010.
---
Los Angeles Times
6 Sep 2010.
---
Los Angeles Times
24 Oct 2010
Section D, pp. 1, 6-7.
Los Angeles Times
31 Oct 2010.
---
Los Angeles Times
5 Nov 2010
p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
7 Nov 2010.
---
New York Times
5 Nov 2010
p. 1.
Screen International
Apr 2010.
---
Time
15 Nov 2010.
---
Variety
4 Nov 2009.
---
Variety
12 Sep 2010.
---
Variety
26 Oct 2010.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
A Danny Boyle Film
Made in association with Dune Entertainment
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Co-prod
Co-prod
Assoc prod
Development funds provided by
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Dir of photog
Aerial dir of photog
C cam op
Underwater cam op
1st asst cam
1st asst cam
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
2d asst cam
2d asst cam
2d asst cam
2d asst cam
2d asst cam
2d asst cam
2d asst cam
SpaceCam tech
Video assist
Video assist
Video assist
Best boy elec
Best boy elec
Best boy elec
Elec
Key grip
Best boy grip
Best boy grip
Best boy grip
Company grip
Company grip
Company grip
Company grip
Company grip
Company grip
Company grip
Company grip
Company grip
Still photog
Cam equip
Film stock
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Art dept coord
Draftsman
Storyboard artist
FILM EDITORS
1st asst ed
2d asst ed
Sr online film ed
Sr online film ed
Online film ed
Editing equip
Editing equip
Post prod script
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
Asst prop master
Asst prop master
Asst prop master
Const coord
Const foreman
On-set carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Painter
On-set painter
Sculptor
Lead scenic
Asst scenic
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
On set dresser
On set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Greensman
Greens asst
COSTUMES
Cost des
Asst cost des
Cost supv
Set cost
Asst to prod/Cost des
MUSIC
Orig mus by
Mus consultant
Mus ed
Orchestrator and orch cond
Orch leader
Orch contractor
Orch asst
Orig score mixer
Asst score mix eng
Sd eng & addl programming
Rec studio
Choir arr by
Choir supv by
Choir sd eng
Choir sd eng
Mus and score asst
Mus coord
Featured musician, drums
Featured musician, guitar
Featured musician, guitar
Featured musician, bass
Featured musician, percussion
Vocalist
SOUND
Sd mixer
Sd mixer
Boom op
Boom op
Supv sd ed/Sd des
Sd des ed
Sd des ed
Supv dial/ADR ed
Asst sd ed/Dial ed
Foley ed/Artist
Foley ed
Asst foley ed
Eff field rec
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Asst re-rec mixer
Eff premixing mixer
Sd mix tech
Foley mixer
ADR mixer, Los Angeles
ADR mixer, Los Angeles
ADR mixer, Salt Lake City
ADR mixer, Vancouver
ADR mixer, London
Sd des & post prod by
Re-rec at
Sd eff premixing at
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff on set coord
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Main & end titles des
AP
Visual eff supv, Union Visual Effects
Visual eff prod, Union Visual Effects
Visual eff artist, Union Visual Effects
Visual eff artist, Union Visual Effects
Visual eff artist, Union Visual Effects
Visual eff artist, Union Visual Effects
Visual eff artist, Union Visual Effects
Visual eff artist, Union Visual Effects
Visual eff artist, Union Visual Effects
Visual eff artist, Union Visual Effects
Visual eff artist, Union Visual Effects
Visual eff artist, Union Visual Effects
Visual eff artist, Union Visual Effects
Visual eff artist, Union Visual Effects
Match move artist, Union Visual Effects
Prod asst, Union Visual Effects
MAKEUP
Co-dept head make-up artist
Co-dept head make-up artist
Make-up eff des and created by
Make-up eff des and created by
Make-up eff, Alterian
Make-up eff, Alterian
Make-up eff, Alterian
Make-up eff, Alterian
Make-up eff, Alterian
Make-up eff, Alterian
Make-up eff, Alterian
Make-up eff, Alterian
Make-up eff, Alterian
Make-up eff, Alterian
Make-up eff, Alterian
Make-up eff, Alterian
Contact lens tech
Dept head hair
Asst hair
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Utah casting
Utah casting
Utah casting
Extras casting
Extras casting
Prod supv
Prod supv-Addl unit
Post prod supv
Prod coord
Post prod coord
Scr supv
Scr supv
Loc mgr
Loc mgr
Loc mgr
Exec asst to Christian Colson & Danny Boyle
Asst to Danny Boyle & Christian Colson
Prod accountant
1st asst accountant
2d asst accountant
Payroll accountant
Accounting clerk
Post prod accountant
Prod secy
Prod secy
Prod secy
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Studio teacher
Studio teacher
Unit pub
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Transportation capt
Caterer
Asst chef
Asst chef
Asst chef
Asst craft service
Asst craft service
Aerial photog pilot
Set security
Clearances provided by
Archive research/Clearances
Archive research/Clearances
Archive research/Clearances
Archive research/Clearances
Safety
Safety
Safety
Piano teacher
Animal wrangler
US legal services
UK legal services
Insurance services
Completion guarantor
Bus affairs, Pathé
Finance, Pathé
Technical, Pathé
Distribution, Pathé
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunt double for Mr. Franco
Stunts by
Stunts by
Stunts by
Stunts by
Stunts by
Stunts by
Stunts by
COLOR PERSONNEL
Digital film mastering by
Digital intermediate supv
Digital lab and screening services provided by
Digital workflow eng, Color Mill
Digital lab supv, Color Mill
On set data mgr, Color Mill
On set data mgr, Color Mill
On set data mgr, Color Mill
Lead digital lab, Color Mill
Digital lab tech, Color Mill
Digital lab tech, Color Mill
Digital lab tech, Color Mill
Laboratory services
Laboratory services, Fotokem
Laboratory services
Laboratory services, Technicolor
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the book Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Aron Ralston (New York, 2004).
AUTHOR
MUSIC
Nocturne in E Flat, op. 9, No. 2 by Frédéric Chopin, performed by Vladimir Ashkenazy
"Heart and Soul," by Frank Loesser and Hoagy Carmichael, published by Sony/ATV Harmony (ASCAP).
SONGS
"Never Hear Surf Music Again," by John Pugh, published by Rong Music (ASCAP), performed by Free Blood, courtesy of Rong Music
"Sleeping Monkey," by Trey Anastasio and Tom Marshall, published by Who Is She? Music Inc. (BMI)
"Scooby Doo, Where Are You," by Ben Raleigh and David Mook, published by Mook Bros. West, administered by Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp./Wise Brothers Music LLC (ASCAP), produced by Matt Fletcher
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SONGS
"Never Hear Surf Music Again," by John Pugh, published by Rong Music (ASCAP), performed by Free Blood, courtesy of Rong Music
"Sleeping Monkey," by Trey Anastasio and Tom Marshall, published by Who Is She? Music Inc. (BMI)
"Scooby Doo, Where Are You," by Ben Raleigh and David Mook, published by Mook Bros. West, administered by Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp./Wise Brothers Music LLC (ASCAP), produced by Matt Fletcher
"Lovely Day," by Bill Withers and Skip Scarborough, published by Unichappell Music Inc (BMI), Golden Withers Music (ASCAP), performed by Bill Withers, courtesy of Sony Music Entertainment Inc.
"Ça plane pour moi," by Francis Jean Deprijck and Yves Maurice Lacomblez, published by Universal Music Publishing MGB Ltd. (SABAM/SACEM), performed by Plastic Bertrand, (P) 1977 AMC Records SA-NV, courtesy of AMC Records SA-NV, by arrangement with The Licensing Partnership UK Ltd.
"If I Rise," music by A. R. Rahman, lyrics by Dido Armstrong and Rollo Armstrong, published by Fox Film Music Corp. (BMI), K M Musiq Admin by Universal Music Publishing (BMI), Warner/Chappell Music Limited (PRS), performed by Dido & A. R. Rahman, A. R. Rahman performs courtesy of K M Musiq, Dido performs courtesy of Sony Music Entertainment
"If You Love Me (Really Love Me)," original French lyrics by Edith Piaf, adaptation by Geoffrey Parsons, music by Marguerite Monnot, published by © Editions Raoul Breton (SACEM), performed by Esther Phillips, courtesy of Rhino US/Warner Music UK
"Festival," by Jon Thor Birgisson, Orri Pall Dyrason, Georg Holm and Kjartan Sveinsson, published by Universal Music Publishing Ltd. (PRS), performed by Sigur Rós, courtesy of EMI Records Ltd.
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COMPOSERS
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
5 November 2010
Premiere Information:
Telluride Film Festival screening: 4 September 2010
London Film Festival screening: 28 October 2010
Production Date:
began 5 March 2010
Copyright Claimants:
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Dune Entertainment III LLC Everest Entertainment, LLC Pathe Productions Limited
Copyright Dates:
5 November 2010 5 November 2010 5 November 2010 5 November 2010
Copyright Numbers:
PA1705419 PA1705419 PA1705419 PA1705419
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Digital; dts; SDDS Sony Dynamic Digital Sound in selected theatres
Color
Lenses/Prints
Kodak Motion Picture Film
Duration(in mins):
90 or 93-95
MPAA Rating:
R
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
46305
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

One Friday night in April 2003, Aron Ralston, a former engineer dedicated to canyoneering, prepares for a weekend of solo hiking and climbing in Utah’s Canyonlands National Parks. Ignoring phone messages from his mother and his sister, Sonja, Aron drives for several hours to the park’s entrance, where he commences a video journal of his experience. On Saturday morning, Aron rides his mountain bike into a remote area and, after parking the bike, continues on foot, bearing a small backpack. Several hours later, Aron spots lost hikers, Kristi and Megan. He shows them a direct path to their trail, but, at his invitation, they follow him on a more interesting route to their destination. As they hike through the Bluejohn Canyon area, Aron explains that it was used by outlaw Butch Cassidy’s gang to trap wild horses and was named for Blue John, the gang’s cook. Along the way, Aron guides the women to a hidden pool deep inside a crevasse, where the three frolic in the water. Before they depart, the women invite Aron to attend a party on Sunday night at a nearby motel, where they plan to place a large plastic blow-up figure of the cartoon character, “Scooby-Doo,” to mark the party’s location. When Aron resumes his lone journey, he stops occasionally to take photos or videos. As he works his way through a slot canyon, a boulder dislodges and falls, trapping his right arm and wedging him just above the canyon floor. Too far away for Kristi and Megan to hear his call for help, Aron experiences extreme pain, rage, fear and despair. He takes stock of the possessions he has with ... +


One Friday night in April 2003, Aron Ralston, a former engineer dedicated to canyoneering, prepares for a weekend of solo hiking and climbing in Utah’s Canyonlands National Parks. Ignoring phone messages from his mother and his sister, Sonja, Aron drives for several hours to the park’s entrance, where he commences a video journal of his experience. On Saturday morning, Aron rides his mountain bike into a remote area and, after parking the bike, continues on foot, bearing a small backpack. Several hours later, Aron spots lost hikers, Kristi and Megan. He shows them a direct path to their trail, but, at his invitation, they follow him on a more interesting route to their destination. As they hike through the Bluejohn Canyon area, Aron explains that it was used by outlaw Butch Cassidy’s gang to trap wild horses and was named for Blue John, the gang’s cook. Along the way, Aron guides the women to a hidden pool deep inside a crevasse, where the three frolic in the water. Before they depart, the women invite Aron to attend a party on Sunday night at a nearby motel, where they plan to place a large plastic blow-up figure of the cartoon character, “Scooby-Doo,” to mark the party’s location. When Aron resumes his lone journey, he stops occasionally to take photos or videos. As he works his way through a slot canyon, a boulder dislodges and falls, trapping his right arm and wedging him just above the canyon floor. Too far away for Kristi and Megan to hear his call for help, Aron experiences extreme pain, rage, fear and despair. He takes stock of the possessions he has with him, among them, an inexpensive multi-tool with a knife blade, a digital camera, video camera, a music player loaded with songs by the musical group, Phish, and some food and water. That night in the dark and cold, Aron scratches at the eight hundred-pound boulder with his small knife, hoping to loosen it, but only causes the rock to sink more tightly on his right arm. When he needs to sleep, Aron uses his free hand to wrap rappelling cords around him to make a sling, or simplified hammock, and dreams of wrapping the cords around the boulder and lifting it away using pulleys. On Sunday morning, a raven flies across the slit of the canyon. For approximately fifteen minutes, Aron feels the warmth of the sun through the narrow slit, a sensation that elicits memories of a canyon sunrise spent with his father when he was a child. After twenty-four hours in the Bluejohn, Aron realizes that he may not be rescued and records a video message that identifies him and his parents. That night, the temperature drops to forty-four degrees Fahrenheit. Aron eats a bit of his remaining food and recalls the invitation to Megan and Kristi’s party. While singing the “Scooby-Doo” theme song aloud, Aron imagines attending the party and partaking of refreshments, then realizes that Friday night he told no one where he planned to hike. On Monday morning, Aron tries to create a pulley mechanism to lift the boulder and although unsuccessful, he imagines returning to his truck to drink the Gatorade he left there. Later, in his video journal, Aron specifies several pieces of equipment, along with eight “burly” men, that he needs to lift the boulder. Estimating that his drinking water will be gone by Tuesday evening, Aron explains to the camcorder that he has been saving his urine in a hydration pouch. He also relates that the raven flies over his crevasse once each morning. After applying a tourniquet to his irreparably damaged arm, Aron, in a reverie, recalls Christmas with his family, then time spent with a former girlfriend, Rana. When his musings are interrupted by a thunderstorm, Aron suffers cold and discomfort as he tries to capture water in his mouth and his water bottle. During the ensuing flash flood, Aron imagines being swept away to his car. He drives through the rain to Rana’s door, but she will not let him in and he awakens from a dream, sobbing. On Tuesday morning when Aron makes a journal entry, he entertains himself by simulating a television talk show. Playing the parts of both interviewer and guest, he introduces himself as a “self-proclaimed superhero.” As an imaginary audience laughs and cheers, Aron explains that if his co-worker, Brian, files a missing persons report today, the authorities will wait twenty-four hours before searching, by which time he may be dead. He says he is familiar with the procedure, because he volunteers for a rescue service. Portraying a third person that he names, “Aron from Loser Canyon,” Aron apologizes to his mother for not answering her call and admits that if he would have told others where he was going, he might now be rescued. “Oops,” he says, and calls himself a selfish and “hard hero.” He tells his parents through the camcorder that he did not appreciate them when he could, but will always be with them. Later, Aron again thinks about Rana and, as his reverie heats up, he punches the knife into his arm and strikes bone, then tightens the tourniquet. By Wednesday, Aron must drink his saved urine to remain hydrated. On the camcorder he discovers a message secretly left for him by Kristi and Megan. When he thinks he hears shouting within the canyon, Aron looks around and hallucinates that a Scooby-Doo doll is perched along the rock wall. Later, he relives how Rana left him because of his aloofness and, in the present, begs her to come back, but then remembers that she predicted he would someday be lonely. Although Aron informs the camcorder that he is still alive, the night temperature drops into the twenties, putting him at risk for hypothermia. In a hallucination, Aron sees an image of the outlaw cook, Blue John, looking into the canyon at him from above. He sees Rana, then a young Sonja playing hide and seek, and claiming she has found him. Talking into the camcorder, Aron admits to Rana that his self-sufficiency has been extreme. He hears his mother and Sonja call, and hallucinates that his parents are in the canyon, sitting on their couch, around which other family members and friends gather. When Aron sees Sonja in a bridal gown, he apologizes that he cannot be at her wedding. The next morning, when the raven fails to fly over him, Aron admits that he has distanced himself from people and that he chose the moment when he would meet the ancient boulder that journeyed to earth as a meteorite billions of years ago. After the camcorder battery dies, Aron scratches his epitaph on the canyon wall, reporting this day as his last, then sleeps. However, his attention is captured by the sound of a child’s laughter and a lullaby sung by a woman. Before him, on the couch, Aron sees a young boy smiling at him and then, in an out-of-body experience, sees his future self, scooping the child into his arms. Now awake and determined to live, Aron breaks his right arm and, with tourniquet in place, cuts through muscle and tissue with the dull knife until his arm is completely severed from the wrist and from the boulder. After wrapping the handless stump, he pauses to photograph and thank the boulder. Then, in tremendous pain, Aron walks out of the canyon into sunlight. One-armed, he rappels down the seventy-foot face of the mountain and drinks mucky water pooled at the bottom. He walks past petroglyphs left by ancient people, until he spots a family ahead in the distance. His yell for help prompts the woman and child to run ahead to get assistance, while the man accompanies Aron on his journey forward. Soon, a search-and-rescue helicopter arrives and airlifts Aron to the hospital. +

Legend
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Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award
The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.