…Aron Ralston thinks so. Based on a true story, 127 Hours delivers a shockingly powerful display of the Human will for self-preservation that causes the daises above Charles Darwin’s grave to flutter with standing ovations. Literally trapped between a rock and a hard place, Aron is pressed to choose the last resort in order to escape from the Blue John Canyons in Utah.
The affect of this film is not so much it’s conflict and resolution but its depiction of the emotional and psychological responses of Aron getting his arm pinned between a boulder and a cliff. Not to mention that Aron Ralston is a real person who actually broke both bones in his right forearm so he could use the dull blade of his China-made utility knife to hack his clamped appendage from a rocky wall. James Franco gives a brilliant performance as he evokes the audience to consider ‘their’ options for survival as if it were them in his situation.
Several times as I was watching the film, I asked myself “What would I do? Would my will to survive be as strong as Aron’s?” Had Aron not cut his arm off, he would have no doubt died of hunger and dehydration. I don’t know what I would do, but ‘death’ would not be an unwelcome option. I have experienced severe dehydration from food poisoning (I was in India and quarantined to a government hospital for 36 hours because they thought I had Swine Flu; but that’s another story). I do not know how dehydrated Aron was, but after a certain point of being dehydrated my body ceased to feel an intolerable pain. I will not begin to presume that I was anywhere as near to death as Aron was; but given my experience I find it hard to imagine that my physical pain would have become worse.
Nonetheless, the question remains “Is Life worth it?” Or perhaps the better question is “Why is Life worth it?” The filmmakers proffer a unique perspective on why Aron chose to live the remainder of his life without an arm. He found value in his life based upon the relationships he has and the relationships he could/will have. More so, I found his motivation to survive was the desire to get married and have a child. I don’t know if this was the actual motivation for the real Aron Ralston, but that’s the way the filmmakers spin it. Darwin would say that this valuation of life Aron felt was so that he could pass on his ‘fit’ genes to his progeny. But the filmmakers don’t cause you to think that his desire to live is solely wrapped up in the ability to produce genetically superior offspring. I think, Aron wanted a greater purpose and testament to his life other than the etched headstone he carved for himself on the cliff wall. While in his cavernous prison of solitude, he realizes that his situation is the consequence of the life he was living: isolated and alone, pushing those who were closest to him away.
At some point all of us must ask ourselves, regardless of our circumstances, “Why is Life worth it?” Is it because of the lackluster hope of producing strong children; or is there a greater hope and purpose for which we exist?