Whatever Means Necessary

As the credits roll, I am unable to move.  It feels as though the boulder, from under which Aron Ralston has finally freed himself, is sitting squarely on my chest.  It's impossible to even look at my husband who is sitting next to me, much less speak.  I stare at the screen and hold back tears.

Danny Boyle's 127 Hours was so wildly and beautifully intense, it wasn't until the lights came up in the theatre that I was able to begin to process what I had just experienced.  Writing this reflection, more than 24 hours later, I still find myself trying to digest the film.

Nominated for 6 Academy Awards, 127 Hours has finally opened in wide release and we were fortunate enough to see the film this weekend.  Truthfully, it caught me by surprise.  I anticipated seeing a good film; there's just been too much buzz to doubt that.  But I had no idea I was in for such a breathtaking work of art.

As you've probably heard a gazillion times by now, 127 Hours is based on the true story of climber Aron Ralston's harrowing days trapped by a boulder in the Canyonlands National Park.  With limited food and water, Ralston survived the ordeal by cutting off his right arm, repelling (not sure this is the technical term - correct me if I'm wrong) down a huge rock wall and then hiking out to find rescue.  But honestly, the physical stuff he endured was only half of his adventure.

Boyle's screenplay depicts the pre-accident Ralston as a fiercely independent, emotionally isolated, thrill seeker.  During the five days spent trapped in the canyon he begins to question how he lives his life and how he cultivates (or doesn't cultivate) relationships.  As he considers his predicament, Ralston explains what brought him to his present, "You know, I've been thinking. Everything is... just comes together. It's me. I chose this. I chose all this. This rock... this rock has been waiting for me my entire life. It's entire life, ever since it was a bit of meteorite a million, billion years ago. In space. It's been waiting, to come here. Right, right here. I've been moving towards it my entire life. The minute I was born, every breath that I've taken, every action has been leading me to this crack on the out surface." This sentiment might not have been as moving to me had Ralston not ultimately triumphed.  But knowing that he has makes the articulation of his realization so poignant.  Instantly for me, that line made the story so much bigger than just this man and this boulder.

It reminds me of a Paul Tournier quote I read on a super sweet blog recently, "So our person is, as it were, bound up in our destiny.  Something of it is revealed at every turning-point in our lives, whether the turning be important in itself or not.”  Ralston came to realize that every choice he made brought him to his boulder. He accepted that this hardship was no accident.  But his unwillingness to surrender to the boulder revealed something about his person.  Ralston was a man who chose to redefine the boulder by not allowing it to remain a tragedy in his life. Instead the tragic incident became a triumph.  This story is (cliché alert) an illustration of the wonder of the human mind, body and spirit. We are created with such strength and resilience.  We are created with the ability to do amazing things.  And each breath we take and every turning point we face provides an opportunity to demonstrate that wonder. 

I didn't think I'd really connect with this movie.  I'm not a climber.  I don't really even like being outside that much if you want to know the truth.  But, Ralston's story goes so far beyond the physical.  Sure, not many of us will find ourselves trapped under literal boulders in our lives... hopefully. But we all face boulder moments.  Ralston just shows us how to handle those moments - figure out what got you there, learn from it and then move forward using whatever means necessary.  I believe that is why I was so touched by this film.

Well, that and James Franco's killer performance.

Oh, and as a blanket warning in case you haven't already seen the film... when you do {AND YOU SHOULD} eat your popcorn early.  The final 20-30 minutes of the film are so intense (including a bit of arm-being-cut off gore) that you will barely be able to breathe let alone munch.  You have been warned.

Have you seen 127 Hours yet?  If you have, what did you think?