Rocks and Hard Places – The Movie

Evan got back into town on Sunday morning, and that afternoon we headed over to the Regal to take in 127 Hours. We had been waiting, with varying degrees of patience, for this acclaimed independent film to arrive in Grand Junction, which is also where Aron Ralston arrived in May 2003 after amputating his own arm with a dull multi-tool to free himself from a boulder that had trapped him in Blue John Canyon near Moab, Utah. 127 Hours is the dramatization of Mr. Ralston’s story, based on his book Between a Rock and a Hard Place.


I remember when this happened. The story started spreading around the GJ public safety community not long after Mr. Ralston was transferred here from Moab. The media picked up on it shortly thereafter, and soon there were satellite trucks in St. Mary’s parking lot, and Mr. Ralston and his parents gave numerous interviews from outside the building. There’s even a Pittsburgh connection to all of this; Mr. Ralston went to college at Carnegie-Mellon.

The film is excellent. A strong performance from James Franco as Ralston, and a solid script makes what is essentially the story of one man’s struggle to free himself interesting and compelling throughout. A friend on Facebook saw something that I did as well; the depiction of Mr. Ralston’s descent into near-delirium as dehydration and the other effects of his plight began to take their toll, and how this also represents a deconstruction of Mr. Ralston’s character. This is especially evident as Mr. Ralston is depicted going through different stages of regret over becoming estranged from family members, losing a relationship, and most significantly not telling anyone where he was going.

For me, an essential message of the film was the need for and power of interdependence, even in the face of fierce independence and a solitary struggle for survival. I can identify with this because I’ve enjoyed being alone at times in my life, but always had someone to lean on when I needed to. Reaching out and connecting with others who care about you, even when it’s perceptibly easier not to, can be difficult but is no less important to our well-being as individuals. I have yet to read Mr. Ralston’s book, but it will probably end up in my pile before long.

The film was featured at this year’s Telluride Film Festival, and opened on November 12th at the Mayan Theater in Denver, with Mr. Ralston present for questions and answers after the first showing. It took until the 24th to open in Grand Junction, and will open in Aspen (where Mr. Ralston lived at the time) this coming Friday. The film has yet to open in Moab, the closest populated area to where all this happened.

I guess that the economics of movie distribution don’t always take into account the local interest that a film might generate, at least in the case of a smaller independent film like this one.

In any event, it was worth the wait. Hopefully it will stick at the Regal for a while.

Have a good evening.
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