GREENWELL: Stranded for ’127 Hours’
I think the title of this blog describes how we’ve all felt since Tuesday night. I have only left my house to walk to work or shovel snow. I live on a snow emergency route so I left my car buried in a parking lot a half-mile away. The front of my house looks like an entrance to the yeti cave on Hoth. It’s ridiculous, but hey, blizzards do that. So, just like every Quincyan without a 4×4 V8 Hemi Diesel Super Cab truck, I’ve been stranded in my living room, trying not to die of complete boredom.
What’s worse? A blizzard sparks this carnal excitement deep down in my core. I was jumping around all Tuesday evening, opening and closing the front door, looking out the blinds, watching God blow the almighty winds and snow. We witnessed history and the power of Mother Nature. That’s always a big deal. But, on the other hand, I knew that after it was said and done, I would have to heave shovel full after monotonous shovel full of snow off the sidewalk. How did I handle this impending doom? The only way I could: watching the newest adventure flick I could get my hands on — 127 Hours — while the storm raged outside.
Belinda and I were not alone. Fellow blogger and friend, Clint Begley, made the trek through the blizzard to watch the movie with us. He showed up wearing snow shoes, boots, snowboarding pants over jeans, a down sweater, a wind shell, a beanie, a scarf and snowboarding goggles. He was also using trekking poles. Apparently, that’s what you need to walk four or five blocks in a blizzard.
We were instantly taken away from the frigid winds of the Midwest to the dry, red rocks of Robbers Roost in Canyonlands National Park, Utah. 127 Hours is the biographical account of a hiker and climber named Aron Ralston, played by James Franco, who left his home for a climbing trip in 2003. Aron made the grave mistake of leaving alone without telling anyone where he was going and during a climb through Blue John Canyon, he lost his footing and fell, pinning his arm between a large boulder and the canyon wall. Over the five days that followed, Aron fought hunger, dehydration and exhaustion before amputating his own arm with a dull pocket knife to free himself — yep! That’s right. I mentioned this is a true story, right? Aron (the real guy) said the movie is “so factually accurate it is as close to a documentary as you can get and still be a drama.”
I have to admit that I was skeptical at the beginning. The scene when Aron’s arm gets pinned is about 20 minutes into the movie. My exact reaction was a gasp, my gut sank, I winced and then my logic kicked in and I asked myself: wait, isn’t there an hour and a half left? I didn’t know if James Franco and a boulder were enough to keep me interested.
Turns out, they were. Franco’s performance was excellent and the movie really forced me to confront some eerie questions, especially as a lover of the outdoors. How far will a person go to survive? How long does it take for the effects of desperation to set in? How resilient am I? And, maybe the most important question, what does hopelessness do to the human spirit? 127 hours captures some of the most basic of human emotions — fear, denial and guilt — at the rawest of moments. Add in Utah’s beautiful scenery and you have one of the most riveting true stories of a man’s triumph in the face of utter desperation in recent years.
***Just a warning: this guy CUTS HIS OWN ARM OFF (in real life and the movie). It’s graphic and not for the faint at heart.
Also, if you are interested, you can check out Aron’s autobiography, Between a Rock and a Hard Place, which was released September of 2004.
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