Although I gave 127 Hours fours stars, this film troubled me. This is because it is on my best friend’s top 5 or 10 films, so when we talk movies it is never far from mind. While he praises the film, I have a reserved appreciation.
I think this is because the film has an unjustified style. This is not really a critique of the film as much as a justification for my reservations.
Some have said the film has a MTV-music video style and I find this style uncalled for. Compare this with The Crow: City of Angels, another film with a MTV-music-video style, granted an MTV of a different era (Yes, not a masterpiece, but it will serve my point and it’s a childhood favorite). The film portrays a world and story that makes the audience feel that it must be told in this style. When the style is temporarily lifted, we feel that something isn’t right. However, when 127 Hours shows a relatively unstylized shot I feel that there’s no reason to continue on with the flashy presentation.
Also, I think the film alludes to its inner conflict with style when it cuts to Aron’s camera. For better or worse, under another director 127 Hours could have been a found footage film. Or it could have been a minimalist trapped drama like Rodrigo Cortés’ Buried, where the camera never leaves the box that the main character has been buried in. I’m not saying that the film would have been better had it been like those. That’s not the viewer’s job.
I think that when a film has an idiosyncratic style by the end of the film the viewer should be able to understand the reasons for that style. The basic plot of 127 Hours is a man facing a slow agonizing death and going to bodily extremes to escape it. After the credits rolled, while I didn’t dislike the film, I felt that it wasn’t the best way to tell that story.
What bugged me in the film was more the flashy CSI-style shots. Like, he drinks his water and we see down his throat from inside the bottle. Then, I don’t know, they must have felt the audience wouldn’t have understood “I can’t get through the bone” without showing an X-ray style shot of him sawing through his hand and encountering bone.
it is sort of a boring story, assume they felt style would spice it up
They chose a way to spice it up that was entirely eye candy.
this film troubled me. This is because it is on my best friend’s top 5 or 10 films….the film has an unjustified style
Soze… your friend thinks the style is justified?
How did your friend come to that conclusion?
by the end of the film the viewer should be able to understand the reasons….. for that style I felt that it wasn’t the best way to tell that story.
Let me suggest that the style is justified by the feelings it produces.
If you felt the sense of facing a slow agonizing death, then the style worked.
This “eye candy” can’t have been authentic to the experience, whether of the real Aron or the fictional Aron.
“it can be a matter of degree. In this film, the style may have reduced the sensation of facing a slow agonizing death.”
This was my problem with it, although i appreciate that it was quite well made, but the ‘flashiness’ worked against this ‘feeling’ you describe to some extent.
Less cuts and obvious stylistic flourishes would have made the experience feel more authentic and brutal to me.
I thought it worked surprisingly well. It’s not a literal interpretation of Aron Ralston’s ordeal but an artistic interpretation of it just like any film.
The last thing 127 Hours should have been is a “found footage film”. Been there…done that.
I think Boyle created a taut, economic and visually interesting film from a story that, until Aron cuts off his arm, is quite slow moving in spite of the threat of death looming just around the bend.
Even in the book, Aron inter cut his ordeal with chapters from his past life experiences probably realizing that chapter after chapter of a guy stuck in a crevice in the Utah desert may not make for the best reading experience.
Boyle’s original film runs about twenty minutes longer than the theatrical cut. There are significant scenes after Aron is rescued…his ordeal in the hospital, reunion with his ex girlfriend, etc. When I watched them I thought …oh Boyle should have kept those scenes in as they would give the audience more of a sense of closure concerning Aron’s story. But, of course on 2nd thought I realized that the film would have lost momentum with the additional weight of those 20 minutes and they added nothing to the film Boyle wanted to make.
127 Hours is one of my favorite films….I think it’s just great.
1) I haven’t discussed it with him yet.
2) Of course I’m not suggesting that the film made me think it would be cool to be stuck in a canyon so I could have visions of Scooby Doo. I did get a sense of agony, but it was cluttered with so much else.
^^agree. Boyle had his targets in sight but he wasn’t hitting them anywhere near hard enough.
Overall i feel he is a jack of all trades, master of none type director. I’ve never been all that impressed with his work, except for Trainspotting in 1996, and even that hasn’t stood up all that well for me.
A found footage 127 Hours would have been bad. And while I’m a fan of films with long meditation styles, they usually have more than one character.
Weird off topic question, I wonder how Samuel Beckett would have done something like this? Waiting for Amputation?
….made the experience feel more authentic and brutal to me.
Wow that would have been quite a film for the target audience !
Boyle created a taut, economic and visually interesting film from a story that, until Aron cuts off his arm, is quite slow moving in spite of the threat of death looming just around the bend.
Time was the essence of the film, no?
Imo, it is the dumbest story ever to be told, yet Boyle uses the temporarily of film to crank it up for visual entertainment.
If Boyle was going to cut a scene or two out, he should have started with the flooding scene. That was a waste of time.
“I did get a sense of agony, but it was cluttered with so much else.”
Agony usually is. Ever sit with someone while they’re dying?
//If Boyle was going to cut a scene or two out, he should have started with the flooding scene. That was a waste of time.//
Maybe….I can see why you would say that.
You right. I should have elaborated on that sentence.What I meant is that the clutter/style seem to take priority over the the central content. The orbits switched, in a manner of speaking.
I meant is that the clutter/style seem to take priority over the the central content.
hmmmm….style taking priority over content – art anyone?
Let me suggest a take on the style/content thing that may help to reconcile the two:
Content: at a certain point in the film, Aron becomes dehydrated, dehydration leads to delirium:
Delirium involves a quick change between mental states (for example, from lethargy to agitation and back to lethargy).
Changes in alertness (usually more alert in the morning, less alert at night)
Changes in feeling (sensation) and perception
Changes in level of consciousness or awareness
Changes in movement (for example, may be slow moving or hyperactive)
Changes in sleep patterns, drowsiness
Confusion (disorientation) about time or place
Decrease in short-term memory and recall
Unable to remember events since delirium began (anterograde amnesia)
Unable to remember events before delirium (retrograde amnesia)
Disrupted or wandering attention
Inability to think or behave with purpose
Speech that doesn’t make sense (incoherent)
Inability to stop speech patterns or behaviors
Emotional or personality changes
Movements triggered by changes in the nervous system (psychomotor restlessness)
Let’s remember I did give it 4 stars. In my book that’s a great film. I save 5 stars for 4 stars that are my biased favorites.
@Robert, I have have problems with “style over content is art”. When style takes priority of content, the style becomes the content.
For the sake of argument, if that was the case for this film then it is about very talented film making.
“Let me suggest a take on the style/content thing that may help to reconcile the two:”
you could use that to justify any film of that nature though. Hell even the worst drug films could be justified on those grounds.
The point, i think, is that by making it too stylish the film cops out. and i agree with that myself.
they were selling a twenty minute story into a feature film. Gus Van Sant was not involved so the film was bond to have a style. The style does not betray the film, the length does.
The problem with the film is a trapping of classical story construction. We don’t really know who Aron is and we don’t really care about him, therefore we don’t really give a fuck what happens to him. Not to mention that the film is based on a true story and we know that he survived. So where’s the suspense? What’s the point? Just to sit through the whole film waiting for the arm-cutting scene to see how great a set-piece it is or isn’t?
To me 127 Hours is part of that bad trend in ‘new cinema’ towards ‘realism’ at the expense of character or narrative depth or symbolism etc etc. Hurt Locker is in the same boat, but that was a far more interesting film than 127 Hours. It’s cinema as a hunter gatherer experience. not that much different from blockbusters to me. 127 Hours is all tension and release with a few dead spots along the way. In the end, there is really nothing to it.
There is a 2 dimensional quality to 127 Hours that i just can’t overlook.
and i agree with Bobby too. There is a redundant feeling about it.
Btw, I didn’t say that there should have been less style, just a different style.
All cinema is style.
All cinema is content.
The distinction has never satisfied me.
^^But obviously if you think the style wasn’t right you have already made a distinction between the two, correct?
I really don’t like the separation either, but sometimes it is necessary, and we should never just assume or accept that the style chosen is ‘right’ or ‘ideal’ either.
I also find it bizarre when people say that they can’t separate the two. How do they figure out conflicts then? It just seems the wrong way to go about the problem. Often the problem with films is that the style and content do not mesh well. how do we get the root of the ‘problem’ when conflicts arise if we just accept this as a given? i.e that we can’t separate the two?
Don’t think Matt was trying to justify it (whatever you meant by it), just get people to consider a difference between content/form
@ Bobby We don’t really know who Aron is and we don’t really care about him, therefore we don’t really give a fuck what happens to him.
Yeah – why the fuck do we bother looking at a woman holding a balance !?!?!!!
We don’t know who she is or who Vermeer is – fuck em both ! /s
Content content content – good luck with it !
@Bobby and Dennis
Your problems seem to be connected to the fact that you both knew how this suspense movie would end, therefore there was no suspense and the film dragged.
Others may not know that he cuts off his arm.
I really don’t like the separation either…
Agree – but not on a conceptual basis – only when we attempt to draw the line too precisely it becomes a fool’s errand.
I like Danny Boyle’s style but do not think it did much service here. When movies are about being stuck in limited space, I prefer being stuck in that space. Flashbacks are a real drag. I honestly thought the severing sequence should have lasted longer and taken up the focus of the movie. If the flashbacks are a must, put them in between areas where he passes out from the meaty stuff.