This week sees the Blu-ray and DVD release of Danny Boyle’s follow up to the Oscar grabbing Slumdog Millionaire and with his retelling of the true story of Aron Ralston he has given us an intense and divisive film, with a fierce, magnetic central performance from James Franco.

127 Hours is not an easy watch, when I reviewed the theatrical release I praised the visual invention with which Boyle chose to embellish the relatively simple story of the canyoneer who becomes trapped when he falls with a boulder trapping his right arm. Suffering dehydration and diminishing options Ralston had to steel himself to make the incredibly difficult decision to free himself the only way possible.

I liked Danny Boyle’s film very much when it played at the London Film Festival last October, and I had not seen it again until the Blu-ray arrived and I wondered if the film would hold up to a repeat viewing. Turns out that it does, and the extras on the Blu are designed to go deeper into the story of Ralston himself as well as looking at the production and particularly the relationship between Ralston, Franco and Danny Boyle.

It’s a challenge for any director to work with only one actor for most of the running time and Danny Boyle’s greatest films have relied on an ensemble cast, yet Boyle chose his lead actor wisely. Franco’s Ralston is not always a likeable character; self-absorbed yet with a gregarious nature and in his whimsical jaunt through the extreme Utah landscape he does meet fellow travellers but there’s no real connection. This sets up Ralston’s emotional transformation as the minutes fall away and he realises that his free-wheeling nature is giving way to a more permanent and satisfying need for connection with friends and family.

There is a grim momentum to the film, indeed most people will know where the story is heading, but the heart of the story which surprised me. Stick a camera on a confined man in mortal danger for five days and you’ll have the audience gnawing their own limbs off to pass the time, but this is about a man whose lackadaisical attitude to his future is profoundly changed when his dash for the next horizon finds him with no horizon to chase and possibly no future at all.

If you missed this at the cinema its well worth picking up. Boyle’s style turned a lot of people away from the film but I’m a huge fan of the invention on show here. It’s prescriptive certainly, and certain emotional beats are forced but to my mind Franco’s captivating performance is only enhanced by Boyle’s visual choices and they do deliver a respectful and engaging film. The Blu-ray satisfies the desire I had to know more about the actual story of Aron Ralston, and with the more generic features do offer something to complement a fine film.

Film: [Rating:3.5/5]

Disc: [Rating:3/5]

Special Features

  • Audio commentary
  • Deleted scenes
  • Search and Rescue featurette
  • 127 Hours: An Extraordinary View
  • God of Love–Best Short Film 2011 Academy Award® winner

You may also have heard that part of the campaign for the film involves putting ZOO putting a man in a shop window at HMV in London’s Oxford Street for 127 Hours (although there’s no boulder pinning him down) in order to raise money for Everyman Cancer Charity. You can check on his progress right here, donate to the Everyman cancer charity here: So, when you’re on your way into HMV to buy the Blu-ray consider tipping a few coins to Everyman.