Challenge: Make a docudrama about a mountaineer who cut his own arm off after being trapped by a boulder in a canyon for 6 days! Wait… that’s not the challenging part. Make it commercially successful! How do you make an excruciatingly “walled-in” story big enough for the silver screen? Ask Danny Boyle and James Franco. Boyle has made an art form of superbly telling stories from books that are immensely hard to adapt to screen, and Franco is carving out a nice niche for himself playing some hard-to-capture personas.
In an age of industrial movie-making where studios continue to crank out cookie-cutter stories that will sell 7-11 cups, Boyle refuses to grasp for his piece of the box office pie, and instead courageously puts it on the line, trusting that good stories will find an audience, whether they fit a studio’s business model or not. And I, for one, am extremely grateful that he has not followed the road of big explosions, ridiculous CGI, 3D, hotties-of-the-moment, and soulless tales of thinly veiled salesmanship through the use of “sexy” storylines. (Maybe another blog on how the word “sexy” sits atop the peak of post-modern deconstruction of language will come later.)
Check out the trailer, set to the harmoniously haunting and inspiring The Funeral by Band of Horses (start it at 1:38). You’ll get a taste for what I mean about Boyle’s genius with the editing and storytelling devices used in the trailer, such as the camcorder and flashbacks. If you haven’t seen the film, it is a must rent!
And be sure to take Peter Travers advice into the viewing experience with you: “If your initial reaction to taking this endurance test is “Help! Get me outta here!” — fight it.” “127 Hours is 90 minutes of raw power and a double tour de force for Franco and Boyle.”
As I said, remarkable work by everyone involved in crafting this journey into the abyss and the dynamic return of a “big hard hero” to a life re-born. Ralston’s story is one of tragedy, triumph, and the truth that people are not meant to go through life alone. Be sure to watch the interview below to see Aaron discuss the seminal change in his approach to life that has opened a new chapter so much better than the one he lived before!
Kenneth Burke said, “Stories are equipment for living.” Aaron Ralston, Danny Boyle, James Franco and the crew that produced 127 hours have given us a gift by re-creating the art of visual storytelling to give us a story that inspires us to never give up!
We could all learn from Aaron’s story – thanks to Boyle and Franco’s telling of it – that we also have a story to tell, and that people need to hear it. And in order to tell it we must find the courage to make peace with our story. We must learn to see the joy of the good that is only very good because of the tragedy that preceded it. We need to tell our stories for our communities to be strong. Let’s take Aaron’s example and re-create the art of story-telling.
Dig in to your story and make peace with it. Begin to boldly tell it! I guarantee you will find it a life-giving experience for you and yours.