From Tragedy to Triumph

By Todd A. Smith


            The film 127 Hours starring James Franco has Oscar nomination written all over it for the lead actor.  Franco plays Aron Ralston in a fact-based story about an avid hiker who must make a life-altering decision or risk certain death.

            What is fascinating about 127 Hours is the entire film is a canvas for Franco to showcase his talent with very little help from a supporting cast.  Sure he befriends two beautiful women, Kristi (Kate Mara) and Megan (Amber Tamblyn) while hiking, but for at least 95 percent of the film it is only Ralston battling his nemesis, the canyon.

            In 127 Hours, Ralston embarks on a journey near Moab, Utah over a weekend in 2003, but his journey is tragically altered when his hand is stuck under a boulder.  Ralston, however, remains calm and begins going over his options for survival.

            He attempts to use brute strength to free himself, but to no avail.  He also attempts to slice away at the boulder with his knife, but still comes up with unsatisfying results.  Ralston also creates a pulley using his hiking rope, but cannot gain enough support to move the bolder.

            Ralston eventually comes to the realization that his hand is probably lost for good, since it has not received circulation in five days, and makes a heart-wrenching decision that ultimately saves his life.  The following scenes, however, are almost too gruesome to watch.

            What makes 127 Hours special is more than just Ralston’s strength and determination.  It is the fact that all of us could find ourselves in a similar predicament.  Not trapped under a boulder, but being caught up in our own lives that we neglect spending time with loved ones, not realizing what is important until it is too late.

            Ralston is so caught up in his adventures that he neglects to answer and return phone calls from his mother and sister, not because he does not love them, but because the love of one’s own life sometimes leads to selfishness and complacency.  Although his family knows about his love of hiking, he does not tell them where he is headed, therefore nobody knows where to look for him or even that he is missing.

            Ralston begins video taping his ordeal day by day with his camcorder, delivering some heartfelt messages to his family.  His life slowly begins flashing before his very eyes, and he remembers precious times that he spent with his father, mother, sister Sonia and old girlfriends.

            He has to keep his senses together, as he begins hallucinating while trapped under the boulder.  However, it is the premonition of spending time with his future son that provides him the strength to make the ultimate personal sacrifice and survive for the sake of his current and future family members.

            Once Ralston escapes, disfigured and disoriented, other hikers help him recover, providing him water and seeking out medical help. 

            Franco is most definitely the star of 127 Hours and should receive a lot of Oscar attention, but the biggest co-star would have to be the cinematographer whose camera angles are magnificent and really bring Ralston’s ordeal to life.

            In addition, we see how precious life is and what people will do to preserve their lives.






Smith is publisher of Regal Black Men’s Magazine.

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