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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.

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Monday, January 17, 2011

entry arrow9:25 PM | The Wuss and the Rock

It took me several days to finish Danny Boyle's 127 Hours [2010], his screen adaptation of the real-life dilemma of Aron Ralston who in 2003 had to cut off his arm in order to free himself from a rock that was pinning him in the belly of a Utah canyon. I was wuss. I went into the film knowing I could not possibly stand the sight (or even the suggestion) of physical torture James Franco had to endure in the role, even if it's jazzed up in that Boyle way we've come to love in Shallow Grave, Trainspotting, A Life Less Ordinary, The Beach, 28 Days Later, Millions, Sunshine, and Slumdog Millionaire, films I've loved in varying degrees (although I always swear by Boyle's earliest efforts more than anything else). Finally, I told myself: "You've watched the despicable Hostel by Eli Roth in one go, why couldn't you do exactly the same for a much worthier effort?" That, plus the fact that I had to free up some space in my hard drive, finally made me sit through the entire film -- and found it nothing short of amazing. One can read it as an adventure story, also a cautionary tale; a lot would come away from this film in that inspirational glow I usually come to suspect.

But here's the deal: it is inspirational, despite its efforts to transcend the tendency. (Still, one can "accuse" Boyle for having a soft spot for such. Think of the kid in Millions.) The film has things to say about individualism, the connection between people, the things we must value above all things, the importance of a Swiss knife... But its engine lies in the emotional truism that sometimes life has a way of reminding us, often in the most heartbreaking (or arm-breaking?) way possible, about what is important. That comes to a clincher when Franco, as Ralston, finally comes to a clear understanding where this tragedy stands in the grand narrative of his life: "You know, I've been thinking. Everything is... just comes together. It's me. I chose this. I chose all this. This rock... this rock has been waiting for me my entire life. It's entire life, ever since it was a bit of meteorite a million, billion years ago. In space. It's been waiting, to come here. Right, right here. I've been moving towards it my entire life. The minute I was born, every breath that I've taken, every action has been leading me to this crack on the out surface." That felt real. I understood that. It made me think of my own metaphorical "rock" in my life, or perhaps the possibility that I still have to meet mine.

I ended the film knowing a certain urgency about the things I need to do, and things I need to put more focus on despite being drowned by so much insignificant noise and my own need to people my world with just me, me, me, divorced from the need of other people. I need to connect.

Heck, I need to de-wussify.

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