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Transcript of "127 Hours"
"127 Hours" is "the true story of mountain climber Aron Ralston's remarkable adventure to save himself after a fallen boulder crashes on his arm and traps him in an isolated canyon in Utah. Over the next five days Ralston examines his life and survives the elements to finally discover he has the courage and the wherewithal to extricate himself by any means necessary, scale a 65 foot wall and hike over eight miles before he can be rescued."
taken from IMDB.com
The tragedy . . .
While out mountain climbing by himself, Aron Ralston ends up pinioned between a rock and the side of a canyon. Trapped for 127 hours, Aron is left with only one option in order to save himself: cut off his own hand to escape and find help.
The catalyst for the tragedy . . .
Had Aron told someone where he was going, someone would have started looking for him sooner and his troubles could have been prevented. Why did he not inform someone of his whereabouts? The answer to this question helps us better understand the tragedy.
"I can do everything on my own . . ."
Trapped in the canyon, as he videotapes what he believes what will be his last few hours, Aron refers to himself as "something of a big hard hero" who "can do everything on my own." He speaks plainly about how, by failing to inform someone of his whereabouts, he has risked his life. Still the question remains: why?
Radio Interview Insight
Well, we find out what was going through Aron's mind as he delivers a hello to his parents on his radio talk show "On The Boulder."
I believe this movie qualifies as a tragedy of hamartia. Through different scenes in the movie, we will see that Aron's tragic flaw of selfishness has led to the catastrophic loss of his own hand. Had he not been selfish, he may never have suffered this loss.
Aron Ralston refers to his mistake as a result of "his supreme selfishness," and he also acknowledges that it is because he considers himself a "big f***ing hard hero" that he doesn't inform someone of his ultimate destination.
Both of these qualities make Aron a supreme example of a protagonist with qualities similar to those of the protagonist in a hamartia tragedy.
The protagonist is an ordinary person with vulnerabilities.
The protagonist's tragic flaw (in this case, selfishness and grandiose self-image) leads him to his downfall.
The protagonist knowingly violates a code.
Aron is an ordinary person
who is vulnerable.
Aron's tragic flaw is his selfishness and his grandiose self-image.
His selfishness leads him to not answer the phone when his mother called. Had he answered the phone he would have told his mother where he was going and she could have sent out people to look for him when he went missing.
His grandiose self-image left Aron to believe that he could handle anything on his own and that he was exempt from all danger. Prior to his accident, he shows an attitude of invincibility.
Aron knew better than to leave without telling someone where he was going.
Other Possibilities . . .
One could argue that this story is actually a case of a pastoral tragedy, and that Aron did not fully understand the choice he was making.
This argument is invalidated though as soon as we see Aron acknowledge his own selfishness and hero-like belief of himself. Aron himself sums up his decisions to the result of selfishness. Aron himself acknowledges that, had he not been selfish, he would not be in the dire circumstances he is in.
Aron's acknowledgment of his tragic flaws leaves us no choice but to accept that he knew what he was doing when he left home without telling anyone where he would be headed.
This is, therefore, not a pastoral tragedy.
Another possibility . . .
One could argue that perhaps this is a matter of a fatalistic tragedy, and that Aron actually had no control over his fate.
This argument is invalidated as soon as we realize and accept that Aron made a choice to go mountain climbing on his own. A fatalistic idea would make sense if a natural disaster occurred that forced him to hike. Because he made a choice, though, a fatalistic tragedy is no longer an option.
Considering all of the evidence provided from both the movie clips and the logic of the argument, it is understandable then how one could conclude that the story of Aron Ralston is one of a hamartia tragedy.
Aron knowingly made a choice and faced consequences that resulted from his own selfishness and grandiose self-image. His story exemplifies a hamartia tragedy.