The story of Aron Ralston, the lone hiker who had to cut off his arm in order to free himself from a boulder that trapped him in a Utah canyon, was all over the news the minute his grueling plight came to light. It was unbelievable, yet it was true and that’s why we were endlessly fascinated by this ultimate act of survival.

127 Hours, starring James Franco as Aron is the depiction of Ralston’s five painstaking days in that canyon. We know going in what is going to happen and so, I wondered how the director, Danny Boyle was going to make those seemingly endless hours not seem like an eternity for the audience while still conveying the progression of Ralston’s ordeal. He succeeds in keeping the story riveting and tense by using the landscape to mark the passage of time visually while juxtaposing the successive levels of Aron’s mental and physical struggle to stay alive.

James Franco makes you feel every emotion and thought that Aron experiences; the shock and disbelief of his predicament, the anger, his ingenuity in attempting to free himself, resignation when he fails, regret, the acknowledgment of his own flaws, and finally his tenacity, resilience and stubborn will to survive.

The cinematography is integral to the telling of the story and is outstanding. The crisp, clear beautiful shots put you right there in the midst of the breathtaking majesty of the Utah landscape. I could have done without the choppy, music video style editing at the beginning of the movie although I understand the desire to go this way because of what is to come later.

Ultimately, what makes 127 Hours emotionally impactful is that while we do get the expected story of individual strength and determination the deeper lesson is the unexpected, simple yet profound reality that human beings need each other and are stronger together than apart. No one person can do it all alone. That’s a powerful message at a time when it seems we are more interested in tearing each other apart than in coming together.

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