Saturday, November 27, 2010
Note on above picture -- the scar on my stomach matches the zipper on the dress so I decided it was time to wear it again!
Can you gnaw off your own arm to save yourself? This is the very literal question filmmaker Danny Boyle asks in 127 Hours, his account of Aron Ralston's harrowing hiking accident where a rock pins his arm. After five days, Ralston amputates his arm to free himself and hike to eventual rescue. James Franco (one of my absolute favorites since his Freaks and Geeks days and his turn as Harvey Milk's lover in Milk) plays the arrogant, free-spirited Ralston who believes he can do anything without anyone. We have our classic man against nature plot -- how will he survive? The movie isn't hindered by our knowing the end. Boyle does not spare us any detail of the amputation which isn't gratuitous -- it's part of his contract with the audience. We suffer along with Ralston as the move delves deeper and deeper into the realm of the spiritual to ask this question: How do we get out of the traps we lay for ourselves? What sacrifice will be demanded for freedom?
Movies about being trapped have a particular hook into the human psyche. We're all trapped at certain points in life -- dead-end relationships, shitty jobs, our collective fuck-ups coming, like Malcolm X's proverbial chickens, home to roost. Why do we stay stuck? Because growth and pruning are so very very painful. Maybe not as painful as severing the tendons in your own arm, but painful. At one point, Ralston realizes that the rock that pins him has been waiting for him his entire life. He writes his birth and death day on the wall of the cave in anticipation of his demise. But even though he lives, this isn't incorrect. He did die in that cave, the version of himself that had gone hiking that morning without a care in the world. Reborn in its place, he becomes a man who uses a cheap dull knife to cut through a piece of himself that had already died, a recognition that he didn't have to die with it, even if losing it hurt beyond his wildest dreams.
Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Truth is such a rare thing, it is delightful to tell it." Emily Dickinson
Memoir suggestion: Just Kids Patti Smith
Benedictions and Maledictions