True story behind 127 hours – Aron Ralston

127 hours

True story behind 127 hours - Aron Ralston

The character that James Franco plays in 127 hours, is named Aron Ralston, which is the name of the real person who went through this horrific incident. Aron Ralston is an American mountaineer, outdoorsman, and currently a motivational speaker. He gained widespread attention in 2003 when he survived the horrific accident in Blue John Canyon, located in the remote desert of South Eastern Utah, USA.
On April 26th, 2003, Aron Ralston began exploring this area. He didn’t think he would be gone for more than the day, so only brought with him two burritos, less than a litre of liquid, a cheap multi-tool pocket knife, a small first aid kit, a video camera, and his rock climbing gear. He was so confident he wouldn’t be too long, that he didn’t even call a friend or family member to let them know that he’d be away. He was enjoying exploring around South Eastern Utah this day, however, while navigating a confined area within the sandstone slot, Ralston accidentally displaced a massive 800-pound (363-kilogram) chalkstone. The chalkstone proceeded to roll, getting wedged in tight spots and trapping his hand and forearm. He knew he was in serious trouble, as he was 20 miles away from the nearest road, and 30 metres below surface level. In addition, as he didn’t tell anyone where or how long he’d be gone for, he knew it’d be days before he was even reported missing, and possibly weeks before he would be found. He spent the next 15 hours chipping away at the bolder with the pocket knife he had on him, trying to give his arm a way of getting out, but after spending all that day and most of the night, he knew it was a lost cause.
The next day he tried using rope from the rock-climbing gear he had in his backpack, to act as a pulling system to try to lift the bolder enough to let his arm escape. But with no sleep, little to no energy and the fact that it is literally an 800 pound rock, this was unfortunately not possible, no matter how hard he tried. He was physically tired after all this hellish first 24 hours, and had little to no liquid left to drink but was so thirsty.
On Tuesday 28th April 2003, Aron realised that he had to seriously consider the possibility that no one was going to find him, and he had to cut off his own arm with the pocket knife he had. For hours he tried slicing his own arm, attempting to cut away at his own skin, but he was having a hard time even drawing blood due to how blunt the blade was.
After a horrific night, on day three when he awoke, dehydrated, hungry and hopeless, he considered that maybe he could stab at his arm rather then slice it, but this unfortunately was another plan that didn’t work due to the knife being so blunt. The next 24 hours, were the darkest hours of Aron’s life, as he was convinced that he was going to die down there, and had begun to give up hope.
During day 3 and 4, of being trapped in the canyon, Aron Ralston, like his cinematic counterpart portrayed by James Franco, recorded farewell messages to his family on a video camera. The real camera that Aron Ralston used is the same one used as a prop in the 127 hours movie. These recordings provide an intimate look into the psychological and emotional turmoil he experienced during those agonizing hours. The inclusion of such personal moments in the film adds a layer of authenticity to the narrative, emphasizing the human aspect of the survival story. He recorded a number of videos, which has never been shown to the public, except one video of him saying good bye to his family.
Reports say that he showed James Franco and director Danny Boyle some of these tapes before they began creating 127 hours. Other than that, the rumar has it, they are locked away in a closed box in a bank, where no one can touch them. In a haunting detail reminiscent of the movie, Ralston also carved a heart-breaking message on one of the rocks in the canyon. It read, “Rest in Peace, Aron. Never to be found.” This poignant inscription speaks volumes about the mental and emotional state he was in, contemplating the possibility of his demise in that desolate canyon. It was during these two days, that he would hallucinate seeing his family with him, and even claimed to have a dream about his future child.
On day 5, he had to resort to drinking his own urine in order to survive, as he knew he’d die of dehydration if he didn’t. It was on this day that he realised, with the last bit of energy he had, that the rock was positioned in such a way that it was pushing against his bones. This meant that he could break his arm by pushing his body against it, and then all he’d have to do is cut through the skin, rather than cutting through the bones with his knife which was impossible by how blunt it was. He snapped both the bones in his arms, and then cut through the skin to escape. Faced with the unbearable pain and the sheer physical challenge, he persevered, showcasing an unparalleled determination to free himself from the life-threatening trap. In his memoir and subsequent interviews, Ralston revealed that the self-amputation took over an hour of relentless effort. This brutal and raw portrayal of the amputation scene in both real life and the movie shows the unimaginable sacrifices Ralston made to ensure his survival. When his arm detached, he described the process as a rebirth, but with the mind of a grown man.
Once free, he now had 8 miles to travel to get back to his vehicle. Whilst losing a lot of blood in his arm, he climbed up out of the canyon, then climbed down a 65 foot mountain to continue to walk 6 miles until fortunately stumbling into a family of hikers who rushed over to him. They called for help as soon as they saw Aron, which came quickly by helicopter. The total time he had been amputated for at this point was 4 hours, and if the emergency services had come any later he would have died. It’s been 21 years since this horrifying moment happened, and Aron is now a motivational speaker, an engineer, and has written his own autobiography named Between a rock and a hard place. 7 years after the terrifying incident, the film called 127 hours was created. I can’t even begin to imagine the mental and physical pain that Aron Ralston went through in those 127 hours, but we have endless amount of respect for his motivation and determination to survive.

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