This post kicks off the first in my film review section, I have decided to review 127 Hours possibly one of my favourite movies created by the fantastic British director Danny Boyle.
Boyle is well renowned for his work and has a long list of incredible credits to his name, for example Trainspotting (1996), Slumdog Millionaire (2008), and now 127 Hours. Boyle has a fantastic style of direction that I really enjoy watching, its gritty, its powerful and it leaves you on the edge of your seat.
So on to the Review (CAUTION MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS)
You can see from the intro of the film that it has a high production value, strong beat driven music composed by A.R. Rahman It drags you straight into the action, the screen splits and forms different sections which show powerful cultural stock footage, the footage cuts to the beat and you start feeling very confused about what this has to do with the actual story. This is classic Boyle, much like Slumdog it gives you a fantastic insight into culture and tradition.
The story opens up beautifully with Aron Ralston (James Franco) packing all his climbing gear. Boyle uses a brilliant close up shot to highlight Ralston’s penknife on the top shelf, just out of reach, your already so gripped thinking this is the main prop in film, but Ralston knocks it a few times but can’t seem to find it. he ends up leaving it which leaves you feeling frustrated if you know the back story. you just want to shout!
As soon as Ralston leaves the house the film bursts into action, a dark moody driving and sleep scene manage to keep the same dark eerie feeling. I love the way Boyle has created the driving scene, its a fast paced montage that feels very punchy and runs at a real pace.
We don’t really see much colour in the film until Ralston wakes up, Boyle really knows how to surprise an audience, You go from the back of a dark sleepy van, the next Ralston bursts through the back doors on his bike into a bright colourful scene, your eyes have to adjust and your left feeling stunned at the effect.
I will try not to spoil too much about the actual story but I loved how Boyle used his cast in this film, its a very basic cast, stripped back to using only 3 main roles in the present. with the lack of characters you really get to feel a sense of closeness, You feel like you are a part of Ralston, going through the same feelings and emotions at the same time he does. I loved Franco’s portrayal of the character, its so powerful and so deep, you lose yourself sometimes believing this it the truth, this is one actor who can def move from role to role with ease. He’s not afraid to get stuck in and dirty either looking at the production stills. I would love to see Franco win an award for this amazing performance. You laugh when he does, you feel anger when he does, and your moved at his moments of reflection.
The idea behind 127 Hours is a simple one, man stuck in ravine by rock pinned to arm, man gets to grip with his life and reality and has to battle with his past and present to eventually find the motivation and the drive to fight and live. man cuts off arm with a blunt penknife to escape. When you sit in that theatre and the lights dim you may first think…wow I wonder if the amputation scene is as gory as everyone makes out (Believe it or not there is now an elite club of viewers who sat through the entire amputation scene) then your thoughts move to…”hang on…this guy is pinned under a rock for 127 hours? how the hell is this film going to work? it could be awfully boring watching all of that play out!” but then you think “Boyle directed this? bring it on!” You know as an audience member your going to be pushed and challenged!
One of my favourite elements in this film is sound, yes its overlooked by so many directors and producers, why? I don’t know maybe its because you don’t tend to focus on it much as an audience. whatever the reason I guess we will never know. The sound and use of music in 127 hours was beautiful and in a sense poetic, The soundtrack is beautifully crafted by A.R. Rahman with guest singers such as Dido (If I Rise). The soundtrack grips you, it makes you feel weak at times, it makes you feel light and free, it makes you feel a thousand emotions and almost feels uncomfortable with how much control it has over you.
I love the way Boyle chooses to use actual diegetic and non diegetic audio in the film, or lack of it. Silence is an extremely important part of audio and one that is totally misused. a lot of the film is completely silent, it makes you feel isolated and alone, when teamed with beautiful shots of Utah and the canyon you feel very weak against the power of nature.
You occasionally catch snippets of sound that really enhances your viewing experience, you start noticing sounds that you wouldn’t normally notice if there had been music over the top, birds, rocks and dust falling. your senses seem at an alert, and this is how Boyle surprises you and in places catches you off your guard. The chipping of the knife on rock becomes a very important sound effect and almost begins to set the pace of the film.
Yes you know what I’m about to talk about….the amputation scene, unlucky for you I’m not going to go into great detail because you really need to watch it! I will say its powerful, it’s gritty, it’s made thousands of people around the world faint in cinema’s yet its strangely gripping. you can’t take your eyes of the screen. it may be gruesome but you need to keep watching…you need to know if he will ever be free!
As I have mentioned before the colour helps build the setting and the beauty of the film, the deep oranges and reds make you feel warm and safe yet at the same time they connote danger and power. the dark nights set in blue feel cold and intense creating a deep fearful feeling, one that leaves you chilled to the bone.
The flashbacks are very powerful, using the same earthy colours mentioned above. Boyle makes sure your gripped by every second of the fantasy, you try to grip to them as Aron would as they are happy hopeful moments. you don’t want to slide back into the world of loneliness and encroaching death and despair. It’s also a great way of introducing Ralston throughout the movie, you find out about his parents, his family, his love, his hope, his job, all through these short snippets. It really is a magical form of film making.
Boyle has made a fantastic film here and one that should be watched by everyone in my opinion, It tells a very important story and also carries a very powerful moral.
I will shut up now but only if you go and see it!
And for those that want a trailer see below (It has the amazing Band of Horses – The Funeral)