AFI Catalog of Feature Films
Movie Detail
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127 Hours
Director: Danny Boyle (Dir)
Release Date:   5 Nov 2010
Premiere Information:   Telluride Film Festival screening: 4 Sep 2010; London Film Festival screening: 28 Oct 2010
Production Date:   began 5 Mar 2010
Duration (in mins):   90 or 93-95
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Cast:   James Franco (Aron Ralston)  
    Amber Tamblyn (Megan)  
    Kate Mara (Kristi)  
    Clémence Poésy (Rana)  
    Kate Burton (Aron's mom)  
    Lizzy Caplan (Sonja)  
    Sean A. Bott (Aron's friend)  
    Koleman Stinger (Aron age 5)  
    Treat Williams (Aron's dad)  
    John Lawrence (Brion)  
    Bailee Michelle Johnson (Sonja age 10)  
    Parker Hadley (Aron age 15)  
    Fenton G. Quinn (Blue John)  
    P.J. Hull (Boy on sofa)  
    Pieter Jan Brugge (Eric Meijer)  
    Rebecca Olson (Monique Meijer)  
    Jeffrey Wood (Andy Meijer)  
    Norman Lehnert (Dan)  
    Xmas Lutu (Helicopter co-pilot)  
    Terry S. Mercer (Helicopter pilot)  
    Darin Southam (Zach)  

Summary: One Friday night in April 2003, Aron Ralston, a former engineer dedicated to canyoneering, prepares for a weekend of solo hiking and climbing in Utah’s Canyonlands National Parks. Ignoring phone messages from his mother and his sister, Sonja, Aron drives for several hours to the park’s entrance, where he commences a video journal of his experience. On Saturday morning, Aron rides his mountain bike into a remote area and, after parking the bike, continues on foot, bearing a small backpack. Several hours later, Aron spots lost hikers, Kristi and Megan. He shows them a direct path to their trail, but, at his invitation, they follow him on a more interesting route to their destination. As they hike through the Bluejohn Canyon area, Aron explains that it was used by outlaw Butch Cassidy’s gang to trap wild horses and was named for Blue John, the gang’s cook. Along the way, Aron guides the women to a hidden pool deep inside a crevasse, where the three frolic in the water. Before they depart, the women invite Aron to attend a party on Sunday night at a nearby motel, where they plan to place a large plastic blow-up figure of the cartoon character, “Scooby-Doo,” to mark the party’s location. When Aron resumes his lone journey, he stops occasionally to take photos or videos. As he works his way through a slot canyon, a boulder dislodges and falls, trapping his right arm and wedging him just above the canyon floor. Too far away for Kristi and Megan to hear his call for help, Aron experiences extreme pain, rage, fear and despair. He takes stock of the possessions he has with him, among them, an inexpensive multi-tool with a knife blade, a digital camera, video camera, a music player loaded with songs by the musical group, Phish, and some food and water. That night in the dark and cold, Aron scratches at the eight hundred-pound boulder with his small knife, hoping to loosen it, but only causes the rock to sink more tightly on his right arm. When he needs to sleep, Aron uses his free hand to wrap rappelling cords around him to make a sling, or simplified hammock, and dreams of wrapping the cords around the boulder and lifting it away using pulleys. On Sunday morning, a raven flies across the slit of the canyon. For approximately fifteen minutes, Aron feels the warmth of the sun through the narrow slit, a sensation that elicits memories of a canyon sunrise spent with his father when he was a child. After twenty-four hours in the Bluejohn, Aron realizes that he may not be rescued and records a video message that identifies him and his parents. That night, the temperature drops to forty-four degrees Fahrenheit. Aron eats a bit of his remaining food and recalls the invitation to Megan and Kristi’s party. While singing the “Scooby-Doo” theme song aloud, Aron imagines attending the party and partaking of refreshments, then realizes that Friday night he told no one where he planned to hike. On Monday morning, Aron tries to create a pulley mechanism to lift the boulder and although unsuccessful, he imagines returning to his truck to drink the Gatorade he left there. Later, in his video journal, Aron specifies several pieces of equipment, along with eight “burly” men, that he needs to lift the boulder. Estimating that his drinking water will be gone by Tuesday evening, Aron explains to the camcorder that he has been saving his urine in a hydration pouch. He also relates that the raven flies over his crevasse once each morning. After applying a tourniquet to his irreparably damaged arm, Aron, in a reverie, recalls Christmas with his family, then time spent with a former girlfriend, Rana. When his musings are interrupted by a thunderstorm, Aron suffers cold and discomfort as he tries to capture water in his mouth and his water bottle. During the ensuing flash flood, Aron imagines being swept away to his car. He drives through the rain to Rana’s door, but she will not let him in and he awakens from a dream, sobbing. On Tuesday morning when Aron makes a journal entry, he entertains himself by simulating a television talk show. Playing the parts of both interviewer and guest, he introduces himself as a “self-proclaimed superhero.” As an imaginary audience laughs and cheers, Aron explains that if his co-worker, Brian, files a missing persons report today, the authorities will wait twenty-four hours before searching, by which time he may be dead. He says he is familiar with the procedure, because he volunteers for a rescue service. Portraying a third person that he names, “Aron from Loser Canyon,” Aron apologizes to his mother for not answering her call and admits that if he would have told others where he was going, he might now be rescued. “Oops,” he says, and calls himself a selfish and “hard hero.” He tells his parents through the camcorder that he did not appreciate them when he could, but will always be with them. Later, Aron again thinks about Rana and, as his reverie heats up, he punches the knife into his arm and strikes bone, then tightens the tourniquet. By Wednesday, Aron must drink his saved urine to remain hydrated. On the camcorder he discovers a message secretly left for him by Kristi and Megan. When he thinks he hears shouting within the canyon, Aron looks around and hallucinates that a Scooby-Doo doll is perched along the rock wall. Later, he relives how Rana left him because of his aloofness and, in the present, begs her to come back, but then remembers that she predicted he would someday be lonely. Although Aron informs the camcorder that he is still alive, the night temperature drops into the twenties, putting him at risk for hypothermia. In a hallucination, Aron sees an image of the outlaw cook, Blue John, looking into the canyon at him from above. He sees Rana, then a young Sonja playing hide and seek, and claiming she has found him. Talking into the camcorder, Aron admits to Rana that his self-sufficiency has been extreme. He hears his mother and Sonja call, and hallucinates that his parents are in the canyon, sitting on their couch, around which other family members and friends gather. When Aron sees Sonja in a bridal gown, he apologizes that he cannot be at her wedding. The next morning, when the raven fails to fly over him, Aron admits that he has distanced himself from people and that he chose the moment when he would meet the ancient boulder that journeyed to earth as a meteorite billions of years ago. After the camcorder battery dies, Aron scratches his epitaph on the canyon wall, reporting this day as his last, then sleeps. However, his attention is captured by the sound of a child’s laughter and a lullaby sung by a woman. Before him, on the couch, Aron sees a young boy smiling at him and then, in an out-of-body experience, sees his future self, scooping the child into his arms. Now awake and determined to live, Aron breaks his right arm and, with tourniquet in place, cuts through muscle and tissue with the dull knife until his arm is completely severed from the wrist and from the boulder. After wrapping the handless stump, he pauses to photograph and thank the boulder. Then, in tremendous pain, Aron walks out of the canyon into sunlight. One-armed, he rappels down the seventy-foot face of the mountain and drinks mucky water pooled at the bottom. He walks past petroglyphs left by ancient people, until he spots a family ahead in the distance. His yell for help prompts the woman and child to run ahead to get assistance, while the man accompanies Aron on his journey forward. Soon, a search-and-rescue helicopter arrives and airlifts Aron to the hospital. 

Production Company: Cloud Eight Films  
  Decibel Films  
  Darlow Smithson Productions  
Production Text: A Danny Boyle Film
Made in association with Dune Entertainment
Distribution Company: Fox Searchlight Pictures (A News Corporation Company)
  Pathé International  
  Everest Entertainment  
Director: Danny Boyle (Dir)
  John J. Kelly (Unit prod mgr)
  Bernard Bellew (Unit prod mgr)
  David A. Ticotin (1st asst dir)
  J. Scott Smiley (1st asst dir)
  Cody J. Harbaugh (2d asst dir)
  Heather Toone Johnson (2d asst dir)
  Jason Allred (2d 2d asst dir)
Producer: Christian Colson (Prod)
  Danny Boyle (Prod)
  John Smithson (Prod)
  Bernard Bellew (Exec prod)
  John J. Kelly (Exec prod)
  François Ivernel (Exec prod)
  Cameron McCracken (Exec prod)
  Lisa Maria Falcone (Exec prod)
  Tessa Ross (Exec prod)
  Tom Heller (Co-prod)
  Gareth Smith (Co-prod)
  Diarmuid McKeown (Assoc prod)
  Ariadne Getty (Development funds provided by )
Writer: Danny Boyle (Scr)
  Simon Beaufoy (Scr)
Photography: Anthony Dod Mantle (Dir of photog)
  Enrique Chediak (Dir of photog)
  David B. Nowell (Aerial dir of photog)
  Mike Call (C cam op)
  Peter Zuccarini (Underwater cam op)
  Joe "Zep" Christensen (1st asst cam)
  Dominic Napolitano (1st asst cam)
  Nino Neuboeck (1st asst cam)
  David White (2d asst cam)
  David Ericksen (2d asst cam)
  Simon Miya (2d asst cam)
  Kurtis Burr (2d asst cam)
  Nathan Armstrong (2d asst cam)
  Joel Remke (2d asst cam)
  Paul McKay Taylor (2d asst cam)
  Tracy Nystrom (2d asst cam)
  Stefan Ciupek (DIT)
  Chris Cavanaugh (DIT)
  Michael Mansouri (DIT)
  Carlos Cibils (SpaceCam tech)
  Yelena Baykova (Video assist)
  Jeff Gustafson (Video assist)
  Gaylen Nebeker (Video assist)
  Thomas Neivelt (Gaffer)
  Justin Andrews (Gaffer)
  David Stoddard (Best boy elec)
  Roger Stoddard (Best boy elec)
  Adam Smith (Best boy elec)
  John Raymer (Elec)
  Douglas Arnold (Elec)
  Judd Hillman (Elec)
  Josh Lee (Elec)
  Jason Winget (Elec)
  Alan Stoddard (Key grip)
  Daniel Courtright (Key grip)
  Jason Walser (Best boy grip)
  Andy Turek (Best boy grip)
  Glade Quinn (Best boy grip)
  Cameron Thorburn (Company grip)
  Andrew Hicks (Company grip)
  Brandon Ellsworth (Company grip)
  Tracy Keele (Company grip)
  Craig Sullivan (Company grip)
  Thomas Cooney (Company grip)
  Alex Boynton (Company grip)
  Matt Broten (Company grip)
  Linus Platt (Company grip)
  Chuck Zlotnick (Still photog)
  Arri Media (Cam equip)
  Kodak (Film stock)
Art Direction: Suttirat Larlarb (Prod des)
  Chris Demuri (Art dir)
  Hollie Howton (Art dept coord)
  Linden Snyder (Draftsman)
  Janet Kusnick (Storyboard artist)
Film Editor: Jon Harris (Ed)
  Tamsin Jeffrey (1st asst ed)
  James Winnifrith (VFX ed)
  Mike Clark-Hall (2d asst ed)
  Richard Etchells (Sr online film ed)
  Dom Thomson (Sr online film ed)
  James Cundhill (Online film ed)
  EPS (Editing equip)
  Hireworks (Editing equip)
  Fatts (Post prod script)
Set Decoration: Les M. Boothe (Set dec)
  Michael T. Higgins (Leadman)
  Scott Arneman (Prop master)
  Wray Featherstone (Asst prop master)
  Matt Harris (Asst prop master)
  Rosemary Hillyard (Asst prop master)
  Brent Astrope (Const coord)
  Layne Robinson (Const foreman)
  Stephen Ison (On-set carpenter)
  Brian Barber (Carpenter)
  Russell Evans (Carpenter)
  Sam Demke (Carpenter)
  Eric Pearce (Carpenter)
  Dustin Lawrence (Carpenter)
  Scott Mahaney (Carpenter)
  Cory Clawson (Carpenter)
  Dillon Ellefson (Carpenter)
  Eric Oliphant (Painter)
  Lucas Jones (On-set painter)
  BJ Harrison (Sculptor)
  Tyler Astrope (Lead scenic)
  J. Chad Davis (Asst scenic)
  Ryan Pederson (Set prod asst)
  Heather Gaither (Set prod asst)
  Peter Silberstein (Set prod asst)
  Rachel Moceri (Set prod asst)
  Christina Alexandra Voros (Set prod asst)
  Cyndy Neibaur (Buyer)
  Jonas Sappington (On set dresser)
  Lu Prickett (On set dresser)
  Gabe Jessop (Set dresser)
  Scott Hinckley (Set dresser)
  Scott Ruley (Greensman)
  Eric Strain (Greens asst)
Costumes: Suttirat Larlarb (Cost des)
  Emma Potter (Asst cost des)
  Jacqueline Newell (Cost supv)
  Michelle Boucher (Set cost)
  Elisabeth Vastola (Asst to prod/Cost des)
Music: A. R. Rahman (Orig mus by)
  Ian Neil (Mus consultant)
  John Warhurst (Mus ed)
  Matt Dunkley (Orchestrator and orch cond)
  Perry Montague-Mason (Orch leader)
  Isobel Griffiths (Orch contractor)
  Lucy Whalley (Orch asst)
  Andy Richards (Orig score mixer)
  Mark Lewis (Asst score mix eng)
  Viviane Chaix (Sd eng & addl programming)
  KM Musiq Studios, London (Rec studio)
  Air Studios, London (Rec studio)
  Miloko Studios, London (Rec studio)
  Hear No Evil Recording Studio, London (Rec studio)
  Panchathan Record Inn, Chennai (Rec studio)
  Nirvana Studios, Mumbai (Rec studio)
  The Gleehive Children's Choir, Mumbai (Choir)
  Octavius Studio, Mumbai (Choir rec at)
  Clinton Cerejo (Choir arr by)
  Dominique Cerejo (Choir supv by)
  Premier Digital Mastering Studios, Mumbai (Choir ed)
  Aditya Modi (Choir sd eng)
  Nitish Kumar (Choir sd eng)
  Anne-Marie O'Sullivan (Mus and score asst)
  Samidurai Faizuddin (Mus coord)
  T M Faizuddin (Mus coord)
  Ranjith Barot (Featured musician, drums)
  Sanjay Divecha (Featured musician, guitar)
  Joel Shearer (Featured musician, guitar)
  Karl Peters (Featured musician, bass)
  Pete Lockett (Featured musician, percussion)
  Harshdeep Kaur (Vocalist)
Sound: Steven C. Laneri (Sd mixer)
  Douglas Cameron (Sd mixer)
  Joseph Garrard (Boom op)
  Noel Espinosa (Boom op)
  Glenn Freemantle (Supv sd ed/Sd des)
  Niv Adiri (Sd des ed)
  Ben Barker (Sd des ed)
  Gillian Dodders (Supv dial/ADR ed)
  Emilie O'Connor (Asst sd ed/Dial ed)
  Nicolas Becker (Foley ed/Artist)
  Jon Olive (Foley ed)
  Glen Gathard (Asst foley ed)
  Hugo Adams (Eff field rec)
  Ian Tapp (Re-rec mixer)
  Richard Pryke (Re-rec mixer)
  Andrew Caller (Asst re-rec mixer)
  Niv Adiri (Eff premixing mixer)
  Andy Hagon (Sd mix tech)
  Adam Mendez (Foley mixer)
  David Betancourt (ADR mixer, Los Angeles)
  Charleen Steeves (ADR mixer, Los Angeles)
  Palmer Pattison (ADR mixer, Salt Lake City)
  Wendy Czajkowsky (ADR mixer, Vancouver)
  Peter Gleaves (ADR mixer, London)
  Sound 24 (Sd des & post prod by)
  Pinewood Studios (Re-rec at)
  Anvil Studios Technicolor (Foley rec at)
  Sound 24 (Sd eff premixing at)
Special Effects: William Aldridge (Spec eff on set coord)
  Matt Hall (Spec eff tech)
  Ryan D. Roundy (Spec eff tech)
  Ben Josephsen (Spec eff tech)
  James Rothrock (Spec eff tech)
  Mike Roundy (Spec eff tech)
  Matt Curtis AP (Main & end titles des)
  Union Visual Effects Ltd. (Visual eff by)
  Adam Gascoyne (Visual eff supv, Union Visual Effects)
  Tim Caplan (Visual eff prod, Union Visual Effects)
  Victor Perez (Visual eff artist, Union Visual Effects)
  Aymeric Perceval (Visual eff artist, Union Visual Effects)
  Mervyn New (Visual eff artist, Union Visual Effects)
  Kim Ranzani (Visual eff artist, Union Visual Effects)
  Kaveh Montazer (Visual eff artist, Union Visual Effects)
  Valerio Oss (Visual eff artist, Union Visual Effects)
  Jim Bowers (Visual eff artist, Union Visual Effects)
  Tom Truscott (Visual eff artist, Union Visual Effects)
  Sally Goldberg (Visual eff artist, Union Visual Effects)
  Mike Pope (Visual eff artist, Union Visual Effects)
  Caroline Pires (Visual eff artist, Union Visual Effects)
  Jesús Garrido Guisado (Visual eff artist, Union Visual Effects)
  Amy Cuthbertson (Match move artist, Union Visual Effects)
  Noga Alon Stein (Prod asst, Union Visual Effects)
Make Up: Gina Homan (Co-dept head make-up artist)
  Stephanie Scott (Co-dept head make-up artist)
  Tony Gardner (Make-up eff des and created by)
  Alterian, Inc. (Make-up eff des and created by)
  Ken Banks (Make-up eff, Alterian)
  Nik Carrey (Make-up eff, Alterian)
  Ginger Cervantes (Make-up eff, Alterian)
  Glen Hanz (Make-up eff, Alterian)
  Eric Harris (Make-up eff, Alterian)
  Tim Huizing (Make-up eff, Alterian)
  Bill Jacob (Make-up eff, Alterian)
  Stephen Prouty (Make-up eff, Alterian)
  Aaron Romero (Make-up eff, Alterian)
  Jacke Santry (Make-up eff, Alterian)
  Peter Schevako (Make-up eff, Alterian)
  Lilo Tauvao (Make-up eff, Alterian)
  Sean Kenney (Contact lens tech)
  Jenna Kilgrow (Dept head hair)
  Lora Laing (Asst hair)
Production Misc: Donna Isaacson (Casting)
  Bad Girls Casting (Utah casting)
  Tori Silver-Bush (Utah casting)
  Rei Attridge (Utah casting)
  Gayle Minkevitch (Extras casting)
  Katie Jensen (Extras casting)
  Duff Rich (Prod supv)
  Craig Ayers (Prod supv-Addl unit)
  Jeanette Haley (Post prod supv)
  Kipling Hicks (Prod coord)
  Mike Morrison (Post prod coord)
  Kristin Ludwin (Scr supv)
  Tracey Merkle (Scr supv)
  Dennis Light (Loc mgr)
  Larry Campbell (Loc mgr)
  Jason Hatfield (Loc mgr)
  Sharell Arlene Campbell (Loc asst)
  Gaia Elkington (Exec asst to Christian Colson & Danny Boyle)
  Heather Henderson (Asst to Danny Boyle & Christian Colson)
  Jack W. Haddox (Prod accountant)
  Krystal Mathiesen (1st asst accountant)
  Victor A. Haddox (2d asst accountant)
  Julie Bernards (Payroll accountant)
  Rebecca Ryan (Accounting clerk)
  Tarn Harper (Post prod accountant)
  Jennifer Chapman (Prod secy)
  Meg Halsey (Prod secy)
  Caitlin Boyle (Prod secy)
  Erich Cannon (Prod asst)
  Sam Demke (Prod asst)
  Jake Fillmore (Prod asst)
  Ignacio Garcia (Prod asst)
  Krystle Grandy (Prod asst)
  Steve Jones (Prod asst)
  Bobby Mansouri (Prod asst)
  Mickelle Weber (Prod asst)
  Judie Harris (Studio teacher)
  Linda DeVilliers (Studio teacher)
  Russell Nelson (Unit pub)
  Britani Alexander (Transportation coord)
  Brett Miller (Transportation capt)
  Lamond Reynolds (Transportation capt)
  The Pig Boys (Caterer)
  Paul Ruegner (Chef)
  Mario Flores (Asst chef)
  Gin Chao (Asst chef)
  Caesar Sanchez (Asst chef)
  Jennifer "Iffer" Mitchell (Craft service)
  Alice Smith (Asst craft service)
  Darcie Stilson (Asst craft service)
  Cliff Fleming (Aerial photog pilot)
  Certified Security (Set security)
  Act One Script Clearance, Inc. (Script clearance)
  Cleared by Ashley, Inc. (Clearances provided by)
  Kate Penlington (Archive research/Clearances)
  Sean Kavanaugh (Archive research/Clearances)
  Freddie Nottidge (Archive research/Clearances)
  Matt Fidler (Archive research/Clearances)
  Sion Dettra (Safety)
  Craig Canfield (Safety)
  Jeff Manion (Safety)
  Brett Sutteer (Safety)
  Mark Robinette (Piano teacher)
  Fenton G. Quinn (Animal wrangler)
  Irwin M. Rappaport P.C. (US legal services)
  Wiggin (UK legal services)
  Totally Entertainment (Insurance services)
  Film Finances (Completion guarantor)
  Pierre Du Plessis (Bus affairs, Pathé)
  James Clarke (Finance, Pathé)
  Lee Bye (Technical, Pathé)
  John Fletcher (Distribution, Pathé)
Stand In: Patrick J. Statham (Stunt coord)
  Stanton Barrett (Stunt double for Mr. Franco)
  Chad Biddle (Stunts by)
  Anna Mercedes Morris (Stunts by)
  Nicola Hindshaw (Stunts by)
  Tyson Swasey (Stunts by)
  Jeff Danoff (Stunts by)
  Ryan Happy (Stunts by)
  David Hugghins (Stunts by)
  Luke Cudney (Stunts by)
Color Personnel: Technicolor (Digital film mastering by)
  Todd Kleparski (Digital intermediate supv)
  Jean-Clement Soret (Colorist)
  Color Mill (Digital lab and screening services provided by)
  Russell Lasson (Digital workflow eng, Color Mill)
  David Cummins (Digital lab supv, Color Mill)
  John Bigler (On set data mgr, Color Mill)
  Adam Johnson (On set data mgr, Color Mill)
  Jeremy Neish (On set data mgr, Color Mill)
  Nolan Southerland (Lead digital lab, Color Mill)
  Lee Ollerton (Digital lab tech, Color Mill)
  Bryce Randle II (Digital lab tech, Color Mill)
  Mark Gillins (Digital lab tech, Color Mill)
  Fotokem, USA (Laboratory services)
  Larry Michalski (Laboratory services, Fotokem)
  Technicolor, UK (Laboratory services)
  Keith Bryant (Laboratory services, Technicolor)
MPAA Rating: R
Country: Great Britain and United States
Language: English

Music: Nocturne in E Flat, op. 9, No. 2 by Frédéric Chopin, performed by Vladimir Ashkenazy; "Heart and Soul," by Frank Loesser and Hoagy Carmichael, published by Sony/ATV Harmony (ASCAP).
Songs: "Never Hear Surf Music Again," by John Pugh, published by Rong Music (ASCAP), performed by Free Blood, courtesy of Rong Music; "Sleeping Monkey," by Trey Anastasio and Tom Marshall, published by Who Is She? Music Inc. (BMI); "Scooby Doo, Where Are You," by Ben Raleigh and David Mook, published by Mook Bros. West, administered by Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp./Wise Brothers Music LLC (ASCAP), produced by Matt Fletcher; "Lovely Day," by Bill Withers and Skip Scarborough, published by Unichappell Music Inc (BMI), Golden Withers Music (ASCAP), performed by Bill Withers, courtesy of Sony Music Entertainment Inc.; "Ça plane pour moi," by Francis Jean Deprijck and Yves Maurice Lacomblez, published by Universal Music Publishing MGB Ltd. (SABAM/SACEM), performed by Plastic Bertrand, (P) 1977 AMC Records SA-NV, courtesy of AMC Records SA-NV, by arrangement with The Licensing Partnership UK Ltd.; "If I Rise," music by A. R. Rahman, lyrics by Dido Armstrong and Rollo Armstrong, published by Fox Film Music Corp. (BMI), K M Musiq Admin by Universal Music Publishing (BMI), Warner/Chappell Music Limited (PRS), performed by Dido & A. R. Rahman, A. R. Rahman performs courtesy of K M Musiq, Dido performs courtesy of Sony Music Entertainment; "If You Love Me (Really Love Me)," original French lyrics by Edith Piaf, adaptation by Geoffrey Parsons, music by Marguerite Monnot, published by © Editions Raoul Breton (SACEM), performed by Esther Phillips, courtesy of Rhino US/Warner Music UK; "Festival," by Jon Thor Birgisson, Orri Pall Dyrason, Georg Holm and Kjartan Sveinsson, published by Universal Music Publishing Ltd. (PRS), performed by Sigur Rós, courtesy of EMI Records Ltd.
Composer: Trey Anastasio
  Dido Armstrong
  Rollo Armstrong
  Jon Thor Birgisson
  Hoagy Carmichael
  Frédéric Chopin
  Francis Jean Deprijck
  Orri Pall Dyrason
  Georg Holm
  Yves Maurice Lacomblez
  Frank Loesser
  Tom Marshall
  Marguerite Monnot
  David Mook
  Geoffrey Parsons
  Edith Piaf
  John Pugh
  A. R. Rahman
  Ben Raleigh
  Skip Scarborough
  Kjartan Sveinsson
  Bill Withers
Source Text: Based on the book Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Aron Ralston (New York, 2004).
Authors: Aron Ralston

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation 5/11/2010 dd/mm/yyyy PA1705419
Dune Entertainment III LLC 5/11/2010 dd/mm/yyyy PA1705419
Everest Entertainment, LLC 5/11/2010 dd/mm/yyyy PA1705419
Pathe Productions Limited 5/11/2010 dd/mm/yyyy PA1705419

PCA NO: 46305
Physical Properties: Sd: Dolby Digital; dts; SDDS Sony Dynamic Digital Sound in selected theatres
  col:
  Lenses/Prints: Kodak Motion Picture Film

 
Genre: Adventure
  Biography
 
Subjects (Major): Amputation
  Canyonlands National Park (UT)
  Desert survival
  Aron Ralston
  Rockslides
  Transformation
 
Subjects (Minor): Bicycles
  Cameras
  Camping
  Canyons
  Engineers
  Family relationships
  Fathers and sons
  Friendship
  Blue John Griffith
  Hikers and hiking
  Loneliness
  Obsession
  Rainstorms
  Recordings
  Unrequited love
  Visions
  Voyages and travel

Note: The title card appears approximately sixteen minutes into the film. The film contains many visual effects, such as frequent intercutting, and images presented in splitscreen and triptych. Some sequences are presented through the viewing screen of video camera or through the bottom of a water bottle. Intermittently throughout the film are depictions of the dreams, memories and hallucinations of “Aron Ralston” that he experiences while trapped in the canyon, but the filmmakers intentionally blur the lines between reality and imagination. Hallucinatory sequences are often tinted yellow-gold.
       In an epilog before the end credits, a montage over music depicts Aron’s life after his five-day ordeal, showing Aron hiking, rappelling and skiing, despite the loss of his hand and forearm. In a surreal sequence during the epilog, Aron swims to the edge of a pool, where he sees his family and friends sitting on the living room couch placed beyond the pool’s edge on the grass, just as he saw them during one of his hallucinations, but the vision is in true color rather than tinted. The sequence continues in split screen, depicting Aron in the pool, juxtaposed next to an image of his hallucination of a little boy sitting alone on the couch. The real Aron Ralston is shown seated with his wife, Jessica Trusty, on the couch, followed by a shot of the couple with an infant. A written statement reports that Aron’s premonition in the canyon came true after he met Jessica and when their son, Leo, was born in Feb 2010. The film ends with a sequence of more shots depicting Aron’s athletic triumphs and a final written statement reporting that he continues to climb and canyoneer, but always leaves a note giving his location.
       End credits contain a disclaimer stating that cycling is prohibited in Horseshoe Canyon and certain other areas of Canyonlands National Park, and that neither actor James Franco (“Aron Ralston”), nor the real-life Ralston cycled outside of authorized trails within the park. Makeup effects designer Tony Gardner’s credit reads: “Make-up Effects Designed and Created by Tony Gardner and Alterian, Inc.” A combined credit for two music coordinators reads: "Samidurai and T M Faizuddin." Some crew members’ names were misspelled onscreen, among them, production supervisor (additional unit) Craig Ayers, which appears as Criag Ayers; make-up effects person Ginger Cervantes as Ginger Crevantes; Color Mill’s digital workflow engineer Russell Lasson as Russell Larson; and assistant chef Caesar Sanchez as Ceasar Sanchez. The end credits contain a memorial to best boy electrician, Dave Stoddard (1948—2010), who died during production.
       The end credits also contain a “special thanks” to the Utah State Legislature and Office of Economic Development, as well as several companies, among them, BBC Motion Gallery, Historic Films, Getty Images and other companies that provided images that were used in the film, as well as producer Miles Levy, the advertising agency Ogilvy & Mather, The Coca-Cola Company and Perrier and Nestlé Waters. The film contains excerpts from television commercials for Sunkist Soda, and theme music and images of “Scooby-Doo,” the cartoon character created by Hanna-Barbera.
       According to a 24 Oct 2010 LAT article, in 2003 Aron Ralston was a twenty-eight-year-old, former engineer, who had devoted himself to mountain climbing and canyoneering. A 15 Dec 2010 Guardian (London) article reported that he had quit his job at Intel Corporation to climb all of Colorado’s “fourteeners,” i.e., mountains that peak over 14,000 feet. As depicted in the film, one Friday in Apr 2003 he left his home in Aspen, CO without informing anyone of his plans and drove to Canyonlands National Park to rappel and view the ancient petroglyphs in Horseshoe Canyon. As in the film, Ralston became pinned in a narrow slot in the Bluejohn (also known as Blue John) Canyon area by a dislodged chockstone that crushed his right wrist and trapped him for several days. Aware that his remote location and diminishing food and water supply made rescue doubtful, Ralston eventually chose to sever his forearm with an inexpensive knife to liberate himself from the boulder rather than face certain death. As in the film, Aron then rappelled one-handed down a seventy-foot slope and walked several miles before he found help. National Park Service employees later retrieved his arm, but it was too damaged to re-attach, so Ralston later had the limb cremated and its ashes scattered at the canyon.
       Ralston recorded his experience in his book, Between a Rock and a Hard Place , which was published in 2004. According to 127 Hours studio production notes and a 24 Oct 2010 LAT article, Ralston hoped to adapt the book into a docu-drama similar to Touching the Void , the 2003 film about climbers in the Peruvian Andes Mountains, and signed with John Smithson, the founder of Darlow Smithson Productions, the company that made the film. The Oct 2010 LAT article stated that they interested Alex Gibney, a documentary photographer, in the project but were unable to get financing at that time.
       A 7 Nov 2010 Boston Globe article reported that producer-director Danny Boyle, who was interested in adapting the story, met with Ralston in 2006 and submitted a treatment, but Ralston was committed to making an authentic recreation of his experience in a documentary format. However, after the success of Boyle’s 2008 film, Slumdog Millionaire , Ralston was more receptive, as by then he realized there was little interest in funding documentaries. The Boston Globe article continued, stating that Boyle credited part of Ralston’s new openness to changes within him after he married. The studio production notes stated that Boyle suggested Ralston’s story to his producing partner, Christian Colson, who was at first reluctant, but changed his mind after seeing Boyle’s six-page treatment, which related many of Boyle’s visual ideas for telling the story. During a meeting in London, Colson and Smithson agreed to co-produce a dramatic feature film based on Boyle’s treatment. Production notes stated that after Boyle completed two drafts of the script, he and Colson asked Simon Beaufoy, who had worked with them on Slumdog Millioniare , to assist with the writing.
       Production notes reported that the writers hiked with Ralston to the Bluejohn Canyon, and Ralston shared with them details of his experience, such as how he held the knife when he cut off his arm and how he made a sling to sleep in. Ralston also allowed them to view the video messages he made for his family during the ordeal. The filmmakers later recreated the exact equipment that Ralston had carried in his backpack, in particular the inexpensive multi-tool with the dull knife with which he cut off his arm and the same amount of food and water. According to the 24 Oct 2010 LAT article, they agreed to accurately depict, with Ralston’s help, details of climbing gear and agreed to make the film without resorting to avoid product placement.
       According to the production notes and the 24 Oct 2010 LAT article, the writers’ intent was to tell the story of Ralston’s transformation, rather than his heroics. As described in the production notes, before his entrapment, Aron was “a perfect specimen” in that he was “self-sufficient, independent, athletic, resourceful, ” but, as described by the 24 Oct 2010 LAT article, he was also “hedonistic,” “narcissistic” and “concerned with ego-fulfillment.” The production notes state that when he lost contact with his family and friends, he came to realize over the course of his entrapment how important they were. In the LAT article, Boyle stated that for him the film was about “the pull of the crowd” and the need to return the rest of the world. It was the story of Ralston’s desire to reconnect with life that interested Everett Entertainment to help finance the film, according to production notes.
       The writers confined most of the action of the story to within the narrow canyon and focused on Ralston’s state of mind, rather than include sequences depicting the outside world’s awareness of his disappearance and the rescue effort initiated by his mother. Although Ralston wanted total accuracy, the production notes reported that the filmmakers had to make some dramatic liberties to provide a saleable story in which the protagonist could neither move around nor converse with other characters. Another hurdle was to recreate the self-mutilation without alienating the audience. Colson noted in the LAT article that they “sacrifice[d] small truths to honor the larger ones.” One change the filmmakers made was to enlarge the book’s brief mention of Ralston’s former girlfriend to dramatize Ralston’s selfishness before his experience. Although the character of Rana figures largely in the film, in the LAT article, Ralston explained that it was his thoughts of his family that most filled him during the ordeal. Another addition to the film was the hidden pool sequence. In real life, according to the 15 Dec 2010 Guardian (London) article, Ralston simply demonstrated some basic climbs for two female hikers he encountered early in his trip. Despite these changes, according to Ralston in the Guardian article, the film was almost entirely factually accurate. One element from the book that was left in the film was Ralston’s hallucination of a young boy that hinted at his potential future as a father.
       The film was made by Boyle’s Decibel Films, Colson’s Cloud Eight and Darlow Smithson Productions. Boyle had a three-year production deal with Fox Searchlight and Pathé Pictures. Several actors were considered for the role of Aron, according to the 7 Nov 2010 Boston Globe article. According to a 4 Nov 2009 Var news item, Ryan Gosling was rumored to have been considered, but ultimately Franco was cast. A 26 Oct 2010 Var article reported that Boyle decided to have two cinematographers, Anthony Dod Mantle, who had won an Academy Award for his work on Slumdog Millionaire , and Enrique Chediak, who had worked with Boyle on 28 Weeks Later . In the production notes, Boyle stated that having the multiple approaches of two perspectives was used to compensate for having few characters. It also allowed for a compressed shooting schedule, which helped Franco to maintain his creative energy while working in a tight space for hours, according to the production notes.
       As noted in the end credits, portions of the film were shot in Utah. The production notes stated that portions of the film were shot in the exact spot where Ralston was trapped, although a replica of the boulder was used, as the original had been removed. The 7 Nov 2010 Boston Globe article reported that the cast and crew camped at Bluejohn Canyon for a week while shooting some canyon sequences. However, the majority of filming, according to the Boston Globe article and production notes, took place on an exact replica of the canyon on a Salt Lake City soundstage. No trap doors were used in the replica, so that filmmakers entered the space one at a time. According to the 24 Oct 2010 LAT article, the amputation scene was filmed in Mar 2009.
       The 26 Oct 2010 Var article reported that principal photography lasted seven weeks using a staggered schedule. For panoramic and aerial scenes, 35 mm film was used, and Silicon Imaging and Canon digital cameras were used for about seventy-five percent of the film for close-ups. The article stated that digital filming made working in a small area easier. To avoid unintentional writing over digital images, the work was sent to Salt Lake City processing house, Color Mill, while film stock was sent to Los Angeles for processing.
       127 Hours had its premiere at Telluride Film Festival. According to a 31 Oct 2010 LAT article, several audience members at the Telluride screening and other preview screenings fainted or collapsed during the amputation sequences.
       In addition to being named one of AFI’s Movies of the Year, the film received Academy Award nominations for Best Motion Picture, Best Actor (Franco), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Editing, Best Original Score and Best Original Song (“If I Rise”), and Golden Globe nominations for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture—Drama (Franco), Best Screenplay, and Best Original Score—Motion Pictures. The film also received Independent Spirit Award nominations for Best Director and Best Feature, and Franco won an award for Best Male Lead. Franco was also nominated by SAG for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role. In addition, Danny Boyle & Christian Colson were nominated by PGA for The Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures and Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy were nominated by the WGA for Best Adapted Screenplay. Suttirat Larlarb was nominated by the Art Directors Guild for the Excellence in Production Design Award for Best Art Direction in a Contemporary Film. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Boston Globe   7 Nov 2010   Section N, pp. 10-11.
Daily Variety   7 Sep 2010.   
Daily Variety   26 Oct 2010   p. 2.
Guardian (London)   15 Dec 2010.   
Hollywood Reporter   7 Sep 2010.   
Hollywood Reporter   29 Oct 2010.   
Los Angeles Times   6 Sep 2010.   
Los Angeles Times   24 Oct 2010   Section D, pp. 1, 6-7.
Los Angeles Times   31 Oct 2010.   
Los Angeles Times   5 Nov 2010   p. 1.
Los Angeles Times   7 Nov 2010.   
New York Times   5 Nov 2010   p. 1.
Screen International   Apr 2010.   
Time   15 Nov 2010.   
Variety   4 Nov 2009.   
Variety   12 Sep 2010.   
Variety   26 Oct 2010.   

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