Aron Ralston photographed himself while trapped in Blue John Canyon, 2003
WWAD? What would Aron do? After 127 hours trapped in a remote canyon in Utah with his right hand lodged under an 800 lb. boulder, Aron Ralston amputated his own arm in order to survive. He made a choice to live. It’s the most extreme example of self-preservation I’ve ever heard of.
I remember seeing Ralston give television interviews back in 2004 when his book, BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE, was published the year following his ordeal. I added the title to the list of books I intended to read, but I wasn’t ready for it at the time. That happens to me occasionally, when I know something will have a profound effect on me, but I need to shelve it until I’m ready for the lesson.
The likelihood of me ever having to amputate my own arm, or anyone else having to do that, is very slim. That’s not really what Aron Ralston’s story is about. That’s just the headline, the attention-grabbing detail that reels you in. When Ralston set out on what he considered a routine canyoneering adventure, he was alone, and he hadn’t told anyone where he was going. At the time he was 27 years old and very independent. I can relate. But he didn’t summon the strength of will it took to get out of there on his own, it was Aron’s connection to his family that made survival so important that he was willing to achieve it by any means necessary, even if it meant cutting off his own arm.
“An arm is not a life.”
James Franco is phenomenal as Aron Ralston in 127 HOURS, the latest filmby Academy Award-Winning Director, Danny Boyle. Franco is alone on screen for most of the 93-minute film and it is INTENSE. Going in, audiences know the outcome of this story, but the way it unfolds is heart pounding and absolutely stunning. Both Boyle and Franco deserve Oscar nods for this project.
James Franco is the biggest risk taker in Hollywood. Not only is he an actor, but a director, producer, author, painter, sculptor, performance artist and he’s well educated. He dropped out of UCLA after his freshman year to pursue acting, became a huge movie star, and then re enrolled in 2006. He majored in English with a concentration in creative writing, earning his undergraduate degree in 2008 after taking 62 credit hours in one semester. (He petitioned the university to lift the normal cap of 19.) Franco then moved to New York City where he earned his MFA at Columbia University’s writing program (while simultaneously studying filmmaking at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.) He’s currently pursuing his PhD in English at Yale University.
Last year Franco surprised viewers by portraying a sociopathic artist and serial killer named “Franco” on General Hospital, which left people asking, “What is James Franco doing on a soap opera?” Apparently he considers the role performance art. He also recently published a book of short stories and exhibited his own multimedia art installation at a gallery in TriBeCa. The sheer number of projects and post-graduate degrees this guy’s working on is impressive.
James Franco studying.
I need to study/write/read/live/do more.