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This article is from Issue 49

A Narrow Escape

Imagine you’re enjoying a day of rock climbing in the middle of the desert. You’ve hopped in your car alone, hoping for solitude, and you’re just cocky enough you didn’t feel the need to leave a note or tell anyone where you were going.

But what if that test went way beyond a day of sweat and exercise and wound up risking your life? What thoughts would race through your head? Would you find faith in God, build on it or lose it? And if somehow you were able to make it out alive, how would it affect the rest of your existence?

Heavy questions to be sure, and ones most of us will never have to face. But Aron Ralston was forced to stare each one of those quandaries down seven years ago, when a boulder landed on his right arm during a solitary climbing excursion, trapping him for more than five days before he finally had to do the unthinkable: cut his forearm off in order to escape and survive.

That ordeal turned Ralston into a worldwide celebrity, leading to his best-selling book, Between a Rock and a Hard Place, and a new movie aptly titled 127 Hours. Starring James Franco as Ralston, the movie is the latest unconventional modern classic from director Danny Boyle, who has developed a reputation as one of the world’s most eclectic filmmakers through a body of work that’s ranged from Trainspotting, to The Beach to the Best Picture-winning global smash Slumdog Millionaire.

Resting almost entirely on a brave and daring performance by Franco, 127 Hours is a story of overcoming the odds, of human ingenuity, of the fragility of life and that desperate, overwhelming determination to survive. It’ an inspiring story, but not exactly one for the faint of heart.

"He believed he was gonna die and was making messages up until an hour before he escaped."- James Franco

“People who walk into the film are going to remember this is the guy who cut his arm off, but I hope they’ll be happy by the end,” says Ralston, who now uses an artificial limb with a prosthetic hook for his hand. “It was the most intense pain I’ll ever experience, but I grinned from ear to ear because I was gonna get out of there.”

Ralston managed to capture much of his entrapment with a small camera he’d brought along on his hike. Expecting to die, he hoped somehow the camera would be discovered and sent back to his mother as a final goodbye.

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