50 terrifying movie moments
Time Out's film team's run-down of the scariest scenes in cinema
127 Hours (2010)
Dir Danny Boyle (James Franco, Clémence Poésy)
A lone adventurer rues the day he forgot to pack a pneumatic drill
There’s one grisly scene in Danny Boyle’s film that typifies the solitude, agony and despair experienced by lonesome adventurer Aron Ralston on that fateful day in the Utah canyons. Quite literally stuck between a rock and a hard place (to pinch the title of Ralston’s book from which the film was adapted), Ralston (Franco) spends five and a half days trying to extricate his right arm from a trapped heavyweight boulder several metres inside a deep, slippery gully. Every thought of escape crosses his mind – from erecting a pulley system to chipping away hopelessly at the boulder with the blade of his cheap multi-tool. And then it happens. That unthinkable moment to which the desperate mind succumbs when every other avenue has been explored and found wanting.
Ralston ponders briefly before arranging a makeshift torque system to snap his radius and ulna bones. Then he picks up his blunt blade and slowly pierces the skin of his forearm. What follows is one of the most toe-curling, gruesome close-ups of self-mutilation in cinema history, made worse by dint of the fact it actually happened. The camera doesn’t budge for several minutes of nauseating arterial mayhem as we watch Ralston hack, twist and saw his blade through layer upon layer of mangled muscular tissue. One suspects many a meal was put on hold after that scene. DA