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127 hours (2010)
There is no force more powerful than the will to live.
Director: Danny Boyle

The true story of mountain climber Aron Ralston's remarkable adventure to save himself after a fallen boulder crashes on his arm and traps him in an isolated canyon in Utah.

127 hours (2010)

The Hand Left in the Thing

There are so many filmmakers out there that I am still approaching many films the way they were intended to be approached: as self-contained works of art (or craft). But there are some filmmakers I know well enough to trust in a larger journey, something of a shared life. Danny Boyle isn’t going to change my religion, or the nature of my relationships (except for “Sunshine”). But he does have something that effuses every film that gives me energy. I never really got that from Frank Capra, but I do understand that is how he fed his public.

Boyle is different though, because he not only doesn’t rely on a formula; he seems to deliberately swing as far from a typical centre as possible. It is almost as if he wants to find a film form that tests his cosmology of hope. Where Herzog goes to the edge and finds threatening nature and flawed mankind effusing the world, Boyle finds precisely the opposite.

I almost did not go to see this, in fact put it off for a good while. I should have trusted the man, because what could have been morbid is turned at many points into a matter of celebration. He begins and ends literally with crowds celebrating. Throughout, he inserts an audience into the lonely ordeal, without the distance that prevents us from sharing. He masterfully exploits the folded notion of his film and the one our trapped explorer makes.

I contrast this with Herzog as mentioned but also and particularly with Penn’s film about the slow sapping of hope from our lively adventurers. That depressed because it posited the inevitable grind of a destructive beauty. This sets that aside, and lets our man shine. We are deliberately exposed to little of his personality, so little that we allow ourselves to grow the character into that sphere of we carry ourselves, the one that meets life at the boundaries.

(Never mind that in real life, he is something of a nitwit, a soulless consumer of achievement. This is the Danny we see. And I like what there is of the man.)

Posted in 2011

Ted’s Evaluation — 3 of 3: Worth watching.


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