127 Hours

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127 Hours
Theatrical release poster
Directed byDanny Boyle
Screenplay by
Based onBetween a Rock and a Hard Place
by Aron Ralston
Produced by
Edited byJon Harris
Music byA. R. Rahman
Distributed by
Release dates
  • 4 September 2010 (2010-09-04) (Telluride Film Festival)
  • 5 November 2010 (2010-11-05) (United States)
  • 7 January 2011 (2011-01-07) (United Kingdom)
Running time
94 minutes
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
Budget$18 million[3]
Box office$60.7 million[3]

127 Hours is a 2010 biographical psychological survival drama film co-written, produced, and directed by Danny Boyle. The film stars James Franco, Kate Mara, Amber Tamblyn, and Clémence Poésy. In the film, canyoneer Aron Ralston must find a way to escape after he gets trapped by a boulder in an isolated slot canyon in Bluejohn Canyon, southeastern Utah, in April 2003. It is a British and American venture produced by Pathé, Everest Entertainment, Film4 Productions, HandMade Films and Cloud Eight Films.

The film, based on Ralston's memoir Between a Rock and a Hard Place (2004), was written by Boyle and Simon Beaufoy, co-produced by Christian Colson and John Smithson, and scored by A. R. Rahman. Beaufoy, Colson, and Rahman had all previously worked with Boyle on Slumdog Millionaire (2008). 127 Hours was acclaimed by critics and audiences and grossed $60 million worldwide. It was selected by the American Film Institute as one of the top 10 films of 2010 and was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Actor for Franco and Best Picture.

The film's title refers to the period of non-stop activity from when Ralston was stranded in Bluejohn Canyon once his arm was trapped underneath a boulder, to when he was rescued.[4]


In April 2003, avid mountaineer Aron Ralston goes hiking at Utah's Canyonlands National Park without telling anyone. He befriends lost hikers Kristi and Megan and gives them directions. While guiding them, he shows them an underground pool. The three have a good time there, and that afternoon, the girls invite him to a party that is being held the following night. Aron accepts and says goodbye to the girls, who head home. He continues through a slot canyon in Bluejohn Canyon. While climbing, an 800-pound (360 kg) boulder he is hanging off comes loose and causes both to fall, which traps his right arm against the wall. Aron attempts to move the boulder, but it does not budge; he also soon realizes he is alone. He shortly begins recording a video diary using his camcorder to maintain morale as he chips away parts of the boulder with a pocket knife. At one point, the knife falls off his hand, and he is forced to use his bare feet and a little branch to recover it. Over the next five days, Aron rations his food and remaining 300ml of water, struggles to keep warm at night, and is forced to drink his urine when his water runs out. He also sets up a pulley using his climbing rope in a futile attempt to lift the boulder.

Throughout the days, Aron becomes desperate and depressed and begins hallucinating about escape, relationships, and past experiences, including his family and his former girlfriend, Rana. He also imagines going to the party he was invited to and having fun. During one hallucination, Aron realizes his mistake was that he did not tell anyone where he was going or for how long. Aron has a vision of his future son on the sixth day, spurring his will to survive. He fashions a tourniquet from CamelBak tube insulation and uses a carabiner to tighten it. Then, using his knowledge of torque, he breaks the bones in his arm and, using the multi-tool, slowly amputates it. Aron then wraps the stump to prevent exsanguination and takes a picture of the boulder before rappelling down a 65 ft (20 m) rockface. He then finds some rainwater collected while descending down, drinks the stagnant water due to dehydration, and continues. He spots a family on a hike in the desert and calls for help. They give him water and alert the authorities; a Utah Highway Patrol helicopter brings him to a hospital.

A textual epilogue reveals that years later, Aron got married and had a son. He also continues climbing and always leaves a note telling his family where he has gone.


Ralston himself, his wife, and his son make cameo appearances at the end of the film.[5]


The scenes early in the film of Ralston's encounter with the two hikers were altered to portray Ralston showing them a hidden pool, when in reality he just showed them some basic climbing moves. Despite these changes, with which he was initially uncomfortable, Ralston says the rest of the film is "so factually accurate it is as close to a documentary as you can get and still be a drama."[6]

Other changes from the book include omissions of descriptions of Ralston's efforts after freeing himself: his bike was chained to itself, not to the tree as depicted at the beginning of the movie; he had to decide where to seek the fastest medical attention; he took a photo of himself at the small brown pool from which he really did drink; he had his first bowel movement of the week; he abandoned many of the items he had kept throughout his confinement; he got lost in a side canyon; and he met a family from the Netherlands (not an American family), Eric, Monique, and Andy Meijer, who already knew that he was probably lost in the area, thanks to the searches of his parents and the authorities. (The actor who plays Eric Meijer, Pieter Jan Brugge, is Dutch.)

Franco is never shown uttering even an "Ow"; Ralston wrote that this is accurate.[7] Ralston did send Monique and Andy to run ahead to get help, and Ralston did walk seven miles before the helicopter came,[8] although this trek is shown in the film's alternative ending.[citation needed]


Danny Boyle had been wanting to make a film about Ralston's ordeal for four years;[9] he wrote a film treatment and Simon Beaufoy wrote the screenplay.[10] Boyle describes 127 Hours as "an action movie with a guy who can't move."[11] He also expressed an interest for a more intimate film than his previous film, Slumdog Millionaire (2008): "I remember thinking, I must do a film where I follow an actor the way Darren Aronofsky did with The Wrestler. So 127 Hours is my version of that."[12]

Boyle and Fox Searchlight announced plans to create 127 Hours in November 2009.[13] Cillian Murphy was reportedly approached by Boyle to play Ralston.[14] In January 2010, James Franco was cast as Ralston.[15] In March 2010, filming began in Utah;[16] Boyle intended to shoot the first part of the film with no dialogue.[9] By 17 June 2010, the film was in post-production.[17]

Boyle made the very unusual move of hiring two cinematographers to work first unit, Anthony Dod Mantle and Enrique Chediak, each of whom shot 50 percent of the film by trading off with each other. This allowed Boyle and Franco to work long days without wearing out the crew.[18]

Boyle enlisted makeup effects designer Tony Gardner and his effects company, Alterian, Inc., to re-create the character's amputation of his own arm. Boyle stressed that the realism of the arm as well as the process itself were key to the audience's investing in the character's experience, and that the makeup effects' success would impact the film's success. The false arm rigs were created in layers, from fiberglass and steel bone, through silicone and fibrous muscle and tendon, to functional veins and arteries, and finally skinned with a translucent silicone layer of skin with a thin layer of subcutaneous silicone fat. Gardner states that the effects work was extremely stressful, as he wanted to do justice to the story; he credits James Franco equally with the success of the effects work.[citation needed] Three prosthetics were used in all, with two designed to show the innards of the arm and another to emulate the outside of it.[19] Franco would later note that seeing blood on the arm was difficult for him and his reactions in those scenes were genuine.[19]

Franco admitted that shooting the film was physically hard on him: "There was a lot of physical pain, and Danny knew that it was going to cause a lot of pain. And I asked him after we did the movie, 'How did you know how far you could push it?' ... I had plenty of scars...Not only am I feeling physical pain, but I'm getting exhausted. It became less of a façade I put on and more of an experience that I went through."[20]



127 Hours was screened at the Toronto International Film Festival on 12 September 2010, following its premiere at the 2010 Telluride Film Festival.[21] The film was selected to close the 2010 London Film Festival on 28 October 2010.[22] It was given a limited release in the United States by Fox Searchlight Pictures on 5 November 2010.[23] It was released in the United Kingdom by Pathé's then-theatrical distributor Warner Bros. Entertainment UK on 7 January 2011,[2] and in India on 26 January 2011.[24][25]

There were many published reports (not all confirmed) that the trailer and film made audience members ill. The Huffington Post, in November 2010, wrote that it "has gotten audiences fainting, vomiting and worse in numbers unseen since The Exorcist – and the movie has not even hit theaters yet."[26] During the screenings at Telluride Film Festival, two people required medical attention. At the first screening, an audience member became lightheaded and was taken out of the screening on a gurney. During a subsequent screening, another viewer suffered a panic attack.[27] Similar reactions were reported at the Toronto International Film Festival[28] and a special screening hosted by Pixar and Lee Unkrich, director of Toy Story 3 (2010) and Coco (2017).[29] The website Movieline published "Armed and Dangerous: A Comprehensive Timeline of Everyone Who's Fainted (Or Worse) at 127 Hours."[30]

Home media[edit]

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment released 127 Hours on DVD and Blu-ray on March 1, 2011 in the United States and on June 6, 2011 in the United Kingdom under the Pathé label.

Critical response[edit]

On review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 93% based on 239 critic reviews, with an average rating of 8.2/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "As gut-wrenching as it is inspirational, 127 Hours unites one of Danny Boyle's most beautifully exuberant directorial efforts with a terrific performance from James Franco."[31] On Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average rating to reviews, the film has an average score of 82 out of 100, based on 38 critic reviews, indicating "universal acclaim".[32]

Writing for DVD Talk, Casey Burchby concluded that "127 Hours will stay with you not necessarily as a story of survival, but as a story of a harrowing interior experience".[33] Richard Roeper of The Chicago Sun-Times gave the film four stars, said he believed Franco deserved an Oscar nomination for his performance, and called the film "one of the best of the decade."[34] Roger Ebert also awarded the film four stars out of four and wrote that "127 Hours is like an exercise in conquering the unfilmable".[35][36] Gazelle Emami wrote for The Huffington Post, describing Franco's performance as "mesmerizing" and "incredible."[37]


127 Hours was nominated for three Golden Globe Awards, including Best Actor, Best Screenplay and Best Original Score.[38]

The film was nominated for nine British Academy Film Awards, including Outstanding British Film, Best Direction, Best Actor in a Leading Role, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, and Best Film Music.[39]

The film got six nominations at the 83rd Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Score, Best Original Song, and Best Film Editing.[40]

It received eight nominations from the Broadcast Film Critics Association, including Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Song, and Best Sound.[41] Its main theme song "If I Rise" won the Critics Choice award for Best Song.[42][43]

James Franco was awarded Best Actor by the New York Film Critics Online and the Dallas–Fort Worth Film Critics Association.[44][45]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "British Council Film: 127 Hours". British Council. Archived from the original on 26 October 2019. Retrieved 7 December 2016.
  2. ^ a b Lodderhose, Diana (1 February 2011). "Fox to handle distrib'n for Pathe U.K." Retrieved 31 May 2023.
  3. ^ a b "127 Hours (2010)". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. Archived from the original on 14 July 2019. Retrieved 31 January 2011.
  4. ^ Ralston, Aron (2004). Between a Rock and a Hard Place. New York: Atria Books. p. 326. ISBN 978-0-7434-9282-9. ...before my streak of 127 hours of uninterrupted experience ends at three forty-five P.M., Thursday, May 1, 2003.
  5. ^ Yuan, Jada (25 October 2010). "James Franco and Aron Ralston Explain How to Watch 127 Hours Without Fainting". Vulture.com. New York Media LLC. Archived from the original on 7 November 2020. Retrieved 19 August 2018.
  6. ^ Barkham, Patrick (15 December 2010). "The Extraordinary Story Behind Danny Boyle's 127 Hours". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 20 September 2013. Retrieved 14 April 2011.
  7. ^ Between a Rock and a Hard Place, p. 283. "I still haven't uttered even an 'Ow!' "I don't think to verbalize the pain; it's a part of the experience, no more important to the procedure than the color of my tourniquet."
  8. ^ Ralston, Between a Rock and a Hard Place, p. 317. "It is mile seven, and a few minutes after three P.M. ... It will kill me if I try to hike out of this canyon. I've lost too much blood; I'm on the verge of deadly shock. I contemplate sending Eric up to get help as well, but before I can spit out the idea, the rapid stutter of a booming echo interrupts my thoughts... Two hundred yards in front of us, the metallic body of a wingless black bird rises over the canyon wall."
  9. ^ a b Thompson, Anne (6 November 2009). "Nine Things I Learned at BAFTA's Brittania Awards". indieWire. Archived from the original on 27 December 2009. Retrieved 19 June 2010.
  10. ^ Fleming, Mike (4 November 2009). "Boyle, Searchlight Firm Mountaineer Tale". Variety. Reed Business Information. Archived from the original on 9 November 2009. Retrieved 19 June 2010.
  11. ^ Jury, Louise (13 August 2010). "Danny Boyle's latest movie boosts London Film Festival". London Evening Standard. Archived from the original on 17 August 2010. Retrieved 15 August 2010.
  12. ^ Karger, Dave (12 September 2010). "Danny Boyle & Darren Aronofsky: Toronto Déjà Vu". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on 6 November 2020. Retrieved 27 January 2011.
  13. ^ Mitchell, Wendy (5 November 2009). "Danny Boyle plans film about mountaineer Aron Ralston". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on 29 January 2011. Retrieved 26 January 2011.
  14. ^ Roberts, Soraya (25 August 2010). "James Franco in '127 Hours': Trailer shows actor as Aron Ralston in Danny Boyle action film". New York Daily News. Retrieved 26 April 2021.
  15. ^ Siegel, Tatiana (6 January 2010). "James Franco puts in Hours". Variety. Reed Business Information. Archived from the original on 10 January 2010. Retrieved 19 June 2010.
  16. ^ Filmapia.com Movie Locations for 127 Hours. Accessed 19 February 2012. Archived 21 February 2012.
  17. ^ Kemp, Stuart (17 June 2010). "Boyle, Daldry to oversee Olympic ceremonies". The Hollywood Reporter. e5 Global Media. Archived from the original on 26 November 2020. Retrieved 19 June 2010.
  18. ^ Caranicas, Peter (26 October 2010). "Boyle hikes up number of d.p.'s on 127 Hours". Variety. Archived from the original on 1 November 2010. Retrieved 17 April 2020.
  19. ^ a b Yuan, Jada. "James Franco and Aron Ralston Explain How to Watch 127 Hours Without Fainting". Vulture. Archived from the original on 7 November 2020. Retrieved 11 April 2016.
  20. ^ "James Franco: '127 Hours' Caused Extreme Physical Pain". HuffPost. 8 February 2011. Archived from the original on 10 February 2011. Retrieved 21 January 2013.
  21. ^ "127 Hours". Toronto International Film Festival. 2010. Archived from the original on 21 August 2010. Retrieved 27 August 2010.
  22. ^ Brooks, Xan (13 August 2010). "Danny Boyle's 127 Hours to close London Film Festival". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 16 August 2010. Retrieved 27 August 2010.
  23. ^ Fischer, Russ (30 July 2010). "Fox Searchlight Sets November 5th Release Date For Danny Boyle's 127 Hours". /Film. Archived from the original on 3 August 2010. Retrieved 5 August 2010.
  24. ^ "127 Hours". FilmDates.co.uk. Archived from the original on 10 May 2016. Retrieved 27 January 2011.
  25. ^ "Danny Boyle's 127 Hours releases on 26th Jan". IBN Live. 25 January 2011. Archived from the original on 2 January 2014. Retrieved 26 January 2011.
  26. ^ "'127 Hours' Causes Fainting, Vomiting, Seizures". HuffPost. 4 November 2010. Archived from the original on 9 November 2020. Retrieved 21 January 2013.
  27. ^ Nemiroff, Perri (7 September 2010). "Danny Boyle's 127 Hours Labeled "Too Intense" After Medics Called to Screenings". Cinematical.com. Archived from the original on 2 January 2013. Retrieved 6 September 2010.
  28. ^ Kellett, Christine (15 September 2010). "Audience faints at "realistic" amputation film". The Age. Melbourne. Archived from the original on 18 September 2010. Retrieved 15 September 2010.
  29. ^ Finke, Nikki (17 October 2010). "Dial 911 For 127 Hours Screenings". Deadline.com. Archived from the original on 2 January 2014. Retrieved 27 January 2011.
  30. ^ VanAirsdale, S.T. (4 November 2010). "Armed and Dangerous: A Comprehensive Timeline of Everyone Who's Fainted (Or Worse) at 127 Hours". Movieline. Archived from the original on 6 November 2020. Retrieved 21 January 2013.
  31. ^ "127 Hours (2010)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 23 October 2023.
  32. ^ "127 Hours Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Archived from the original on 9 March 2021. Retrieved 7 October 2011.
  33. ^ Burchby, Casey. "127 Hours: DVD Talk Reviews of the DVD Video". DVD Talk. Archived from the original on 12 March 2011. Retrieved 14 April 2011.
  34. ^ Roeper, Richard. "127 Hours". RichardRoeper.com. Archived from the original on 9 December 2010. Retrieved 14 March 2021.
  35. ^ Ebert, Roger (10 November 2010). "127 Hours". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on 13 November 2010. Retrieved 14 November 2010.
  36. ^ Ebert, Roger (10 November 2010). "What else was he gonna do?". RogerEbert.com. Archived from the original on 17 April 2013. Retrieved 14 March 2021.
  37. ^ Emami, Gazelle (26 October 2010). "HuffPost Review: 127 Hours". HuffPost. Archived from the original on 27 June 2012. Retrieved 21 January 2013.
  38. ^ "The 68th Annual Golden Globe Award". Golden Globe Awards. 14 December 2010. Archived from the original on 25 December 2010. Retrieved 28 February 2011.
  39. ^ "2011 BAFTA Nominees" (PDF). British Academy Film Awards. 15 January 2010. Archived (PDF) from the original on 21 October 2020. Retrieved 28 February 2011.
  40. ^ "Nominees for the 83rd Academy Awards". Oscars. 25 January 2011. Archived from the original on 2 March 2011. Retrieved 28 February 2011.
  41. ^ "Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards Nominees". BFCA.org. Archived from the original on 30 August 2012. Retrieved 28 February 2011.
  42. ^ "A.R. Rahman wins Critics' Choice Award for '127 Hours'". Reuters. 15 January 2011. Archived from the original on 14 March 2021. Retrieved 14 March 2021.
  43. ^ "A.R. Rahman wins Critics' Choice award". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 17 January 2011. ISSN 0971-751X. Archived from the original on 29 June 2011. Retrieved 14 March 2021.
  44. ^ "NYFCO Awards 2001-2019". New York Film Critics Online. Archived from the original on 3 February 2017. Retrieved 28 October 2017.
  45. ^ "2010". Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association. Archived from the original on 7 November 2020. Retrieved 28 October 2017.

External links[edit]