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The Film '127 Hours' Shows Our Need for Love and Community

The film 127 Hours tells the true story of then 27-year-old Aron Ralston. In 2003, while hiking in Blue John Canyon in Utah, Ralston was trapped by a chockstone that pinned his right arm to one wall of a crevice. After surviving for five days on 500 ml of water and exhausting all other options, he fashioned a homemade tourniquet and with a blunt pocket tool cut off his arm and stumbled out of the canyon to find help.

At one level, this film sounds like just another gory action movie, but more deeply, this film explores what it means to love. At the beginning of the film, Aron barrels into the canyon, music blaring in his headphones. He arrives there after ignoring phone calls from his mom and sister and brushing aside his boss' queries about where he was headed. Ralston acts like a completely self-centered loner, incessantly snapping pictures of himself and flirting with girls he meets on the trail. Clearly, Ralston doesn't need or want anyone else in his life.

But by the end of the film, he's motivated to fight for his life by a memory of his ex-girlfriend looking at him with a mixture of pain and pity and saying, "You're going to be so lonely, Aron." At the time, he wanted the loneliness, savoring freedom from entanglements. But remembering her love and thinking about the possibility of starting a family provides the motivation to pull out his pocket knife. He realizes he's made a terrible mistake by isolating himself, and he wants another chance to live differently. So he cuts off his arm and escapes to freedom.

Near the end of the film, when Aron has made it out of the canyon and is on the trail with his severed arm, he sees some other hikers a little way ahead. Barely audible at first he says, "Help me." Then, bellowing hoarsely, he cries out, "Please Help Me!" The hikers hear him, and turn around puzzled. Then, seeing what's happened, they come running.

It's when Aron asks for help that the film reaches its climax. "Please help me" is itself a form of "I love you." The two cries belong together. Ralston's vulnerability, his plea for rescue, is what leads him back into the arms of his family, back into relationships with people, back to love.

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