127 Hours Mini-Review and Q & A with Danny Boyle

I headed out to the Angelika movie theatre in Dallas on October 20th to go and see a screening of 127 Hours with James Franco.  I did not realize until a couple days ago that director Danny Boyle was going to be in attendance.  Producer Christian Colson was also at the screening.  There was a short introduction before the movie began by both Colson and Boyle where they said to enjoy the 90 minutes of 127 hours.  I did not see this movie as press, so I am just going to give a brief review, and leave the full review up to whoever on staff gets the pleasure of seeing this one officially.

I was probably like everyone else who first heard of this movie.  How is this story going to work as a movie?  Let’s just say that it did.  There are three main parts to the movie.  Before Aron gets stuck, when he’s stuck, and after he frees himself.  The film uses a lot of different shooting techniques that make the film interesting and different.  James Franco is excellent, and I can see why there is already Oscar buzz for him.  Hearing about how the movie was shot, I think it was a part that not many actors could have done as well as Franco, if at all.   I don’t want to spoil the movie for anyone, but most people already know the story of Aron Ralston and what happened to him.  Don’t read anymore of this paragraph if you have no clue about the story.  The actual cutting of his arm is really graphic, but considering that is the resolution of Aron’s predicament, how could they not show it.  I, along with the majority of the audience, could not watch some of it.  I did some flinching when there was bone breaking going on.  The audience actually was more disgusted with Aron drinking nasty water after he gets out, the actual arm cutting.  Really?  You would do the same thing too if you had not much water for 127 hours.

Harry Potter fans will recognize Clémence Poésy as Aron’s former girlfriend.  Lizzy Caplan plays Aron’s sister who you may recognize from True Blood.  The music was great.  Boyle used several songs and a score by A.R. Rahman once again.  I am pretty sure I heard a Dido interlude in the mix.

The ending was lovely.  I almost cried.  All together, the film is fantastic and shows how determined the human spirit can be despite of the obstacles that lay ahead.  Danny Boyle may be getting another Oscar nomination for this one.  4.5/5

From the Q and A, I can share with you a few tidbits of information that Boyle and Colson discussed from questions asked by the host and the audience. I am gleaming this information from my brain, so their may be some errors.  Feel free to correct me.

The movie was shot in Nevada and Utah over an eight week period.  The film was shot in sequence, which is rare for a movie.

Boyle said he had to use his “Oscar card” to get the greenlight for the movie since what studio wants to give someone money to make a movie about a guy pinned by a rock for 127 hours.  Colson was skeptical of how the story of Aron Ralston could be made into a film after reading the book at Boyle’s behest.  Once he received Boyle’s treatment, he could see how it could work.

James Franco came into meet with Boyle and Colson to get the part of Aron.  Unfortunately, Franco came off as stoned and uninterested.  They were very skeptical about offering him the part.  A casting director from 20th Century Fox contacted them and said that is what Franco does in these meetings.  He wants to kind of size up the moviemakers and see what their reaction is to him.  Boyle said he was very glad to have given the part to Franco because he was very dedicated and a great actor.  They thought it was important for the actor to be able to do humor, so Boyle watched Pineapple Express and thought he could do humor just fine.

Boyle commented on how tense British actors can be while American actors are a little more relaxed.  He said he has worked with two truly great actors, Leonardo Dicaprio and James Frano.

All of the sequences in the canyon with Franco and the rock were shot by only two cameramen who would trade off filming with Franco.  Since this was shot on location, you cannot film those shot with a whole crew in that narrow canyon.  The rock and the canyon (if I remember right) are the ones that Aron was actually stuck in.

I asked a question about what kind of cameras were used to make this film since it was evident that handhelds were used in some way.  Boyle said the handheld camera scenes in the canyon with Franco were actually shot by Franco on that camera.  It would be just Franco and his camera down there filming and Boyle would review the shots later.  They also used a Canon digital camera for some parts where they needed the camera to be jumpy.  A digital camera was also attached to the actor or stand-in/stuntman behind their shoulder, almost like a third arm.  It gave a different perspective, and was a more still shot than attaching it to the person’s head, for instance.

Someone asked what Boyle’s thumbprint was for this movie (the director’s trademark) since this person had noticed them in his previous films.  Boyle responded that he was not sure since the audience usually picks up on that, not him.  He did remark that he really tries to put great music in his films and talked about the legacy of music.  His daughters and sons knew of some songs that were done before they were alive and he found it amazing that they know some of this music.  Colson then said that he thinks Boyle’s trademark for this film is the boldness in the approach he took.

A prosthesis arm was used during the actual arm cutting and breaking that had a steel rod running down it.  The effects guy said there was no way for Franco to break the arm, but Franco did indeed break it, to the amazement of everyone.  The reaction on Franco’s face during that moment is real.

The real Aron Ralston did really keep a video diary while he pinned by the rock.  The video footage has been seen by only a few people since it was meant for his mom and Aron decided to keep it that way.  Before Boyle and Colson were allowed to view the tapes, but Aron had to ask his mom if it was okay.  Aron is very close to his mother.  After Aron was rescued, a crew went back to the rock.  It took 12 people to move the rock in order to remove his arm.  They took pictures.  The arm was cremated and Aron spread the ashes in the canyon.

Sorry for the crappy cell phone picture, but you get the idea.

by Sarah Ksiazek

About Sarah Ksiazek

Sarah is a Zookeeper extraordinaire who writes, edits, and is the resident trailer addict for Lost in Reviews. Do not underestimate her snobbery when it comes to trailers. She also owns/runs The Host Movie News which is a fan site for The Host movie adaptation.

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