"127 Hours" as Big-Budget "I Shouldn't Be Alive," With a Nod to the Great "Touching the Void"

So I finally got around to watching the much-acclaimed/suspect film of Aaron Ralston’s self-amputation, 127 Hours, and actually thought it was pretty good, even if my hotel owner/chef in Green River, Utah held a grudge against Ralston for not paying back the county/state money spent on searching for him. (See previous post months ago: I met the guy at his Riverside Terrace restaurant, which made a killer breakfast.) It’s really a big-budget version of one of my favorite AnimalPlanet TV shows, I Shouldn’t Be Alive, which reenacts true tales of harrowing outdoor horror, some of them quite good. My favorite: the guy who survived for over three months at sea, adrift in a small life raft. The great part of those shows is they feature the actual survivors reliving their stories, and providing some interesting commentary. Ralston only shows up at the end of 127 Hours, in a brief flash, with his wife, and seems likable enough, for that brief moment.
But Ralston’s story, harrowing as it is, pales in comparison to both the book and film of Touching the Void. This first appeared as a nonfiction book in 1988, about Joe Simpson and Simon Yates’s disaster while mountain climbing in Peru, in which Simpson fell and broke several bones, and then Yates tried to lower him down the mountain, only to be forced to cut the rope and let him fall into a crevasse, giving him up for dead. Only he didn’t die. He crawled out of the crevasse, and several miles over glaciers and rocks back to camp, to arrive just in time before Yates and another fellow were about to hike back to civilization. The book was amazing. The film, made in 2003, was excruciating to watch, and is still the greatest I Shouldn’t Be Alive episode ever told.

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