Tuesday, December 07, 2010

127 Hours

The movie 127 Hours is the true story of Aron Ralston's five-day, "between-a-rock-and-a-hard-place" ordeal in a Utah canyon back in 2003. You can read about the ordeal here.

Ralston is played with excellence by James Franco. He ought to win an Oscar.

Most of the movie's 94 minutes are occupied with Ralston's thoughts while trapped in the canyon, his recollections of the past, and his efforts to free himself from the boulder that fell on his arm. In a way, 127 Hours resembles Cast Away, the 2000 movie starring Tom Hanks about a man trying to survive on a deserted island. Nearly the whole time, it's just Franco, the canyon, and the sky above. But director Danny Boyle relies on more flashbacks, music, and sentiment in 127 Hours than Robert Zemeckis did in Cast Away. For the most part, it works splendidly too. There's a lot of angst in this movie, a lot of regret over selfish actions and lost relationships. All this leads up to one of the most dramatic, excruciating movie scenes I've ever not watched.

The spiritual implications of 127 Hours are many and deep. During his five torturous days deep in the canyon, Ralston discovers the depth of his sinfulness. He has been a thoroughly self-centered man. He has ignored his parents' love, used his girlfriend, and refused to let anyone really help him or know him. He didn't even tell anyone where he was going that fateful day. He is Adam hiding behind fig leaves. He is Samson - proud, boastful, self-sufficient. He is David before his downfall with Bathsheba. It took the trauma of 127 lonely, painful hours for Ralston to come to the end of himself.

In the most memorable scene of the movie for me, after he obtains his freedom he looks at the boulder that fell on him and says "Thank you." He is now free indeed - free to love, free to need. But to get to this new place he had to repent. He had to (literally) obey Christ's words in Matthew 5:30 - "If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell." Ralston had to throw away his idol if he was ever to be truly alive.

Another significant moment in the movie comes when the truth about providence and the sovereignty of God is revealed to Ralston. (Of course, whether Ralston ever submitted to that truth I cannot say.) About the boulder, Ralston/Franco says something like, "That boulder has been waiting there for centuries until I happened to fall into this canyon. It was waiting there just for me." Ralston is right. Nothing happens by chance. If not one sparrow falls to the ground apart from the will of God (Matthew 10:29), so not one stone rolls down upon the arm of a mountain climber apart from the sovereign plan of God. That boulder was a "severe mercy," intended by God to bring Ralston to faith.

The story of Aron Ralston is still being written. I hope it ends in God's glory and Ralston's joy.


kristinwithani said...

Great review Mike. I saw Franco interviewed and could not even watch the clip knowing it was the time when he was hopping through the canyon and then was trapped by the boulder.
Your words actually make me want to see it.

Bill Reichart said...

Lauren and I saw the movie a couple of weeks ago, and loved it. But from what I have seen from Aron's interviews, especially when the book came out a couple of years ago...his spiritual journey was even more profound than the movie revealed.