This is getting a bit bizarre. Having already attended the Telluride Film Festival premiere of “127 Hours” where it was later discovered a moviegoer had fainted during the intense drama, it’s hard to describe this pundit’s reaction when someone stood up and yelled “We need a medic” during the first 40 minutes of the picture’s Los Angeles premiere at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Theater.
The film tells the true story of hiker Aron Ralston and his dramatic escape from a Utah canyon after five days of having his arm stuck between an immovable boulder. With no other alternatives and out of supplies, the 28-year-old amputated his arm and thereby saved his life. The story became a media sensation, Ralston wrote a book, became a motivational speaker and has continued to climb mountains around the world.
On this night, after a gentleman in the woman’s row dramatically called for a medic, numerous Academy theater employees and security officials helped the woman out of the theater. The lights did not go up and the screening was not halted in any way, but this is becoming all too common for Fox Searchlight. “127 Hours” has already been plagued by fainting and “attacks” at a number of high profile public screenings although for some reason this doesn’t appear to happen at private critics screenings (hmmmm). Could this be because some moviegoers are getting too worked up before seeing the picture? Are previous stories about these attacks becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy? Clearly, this is not what Searchlight expected would greet them when they began screening their legitimate Oscar contender and if they are privately annoyed by the continuing episodes you honestly can’t blame them.
After the film, Boyle appeared on stage (something that was always planned) and informed the audience that the woman had been taken to Cedars Sinai Hospital and was suffering from what was likely an existing medical condition — possibly diabetes. Boyle noted, “She’s fine. She said it had nothing to do with the movie, bless her.”
Having already received a standing ovation while coming to the stage, Boyle then introduced his producer Christian Colson, screenwriter Simon Beaufoy and the cast which includes Kate Mara, Amber Tamblyn and, of course, Oscar contender James Franco. The surprise guest was none other than Ralston himself who received a huge ovation and gave an eloquent speech about how much he loved the film’s message of hope and inspiration.
Still, the in-theater drama during the first half of the picture was the talk of the after party. Many attendees had sympathy for the woman, but there was concern about how this would affect the picture’s playability. Let’s be clear, upon second viewing I’m even more impressed with Boyle’s “Slumdog Millionaire” follow up. As a friend noted, it’s not just a film, but it comes close to art. From Franco’s performance, to the stunning cinematography, score and editing, “127 Hours” is an intense, immersive achievement. Boyle makes you feel as though you are intimately next to Ralston through his endeavor. And, it’s the picture’s emotional last five minutes that still brings tears to many viewer’s eyes (this writer included).
“127 Hours” does not need a warning. However, if you don’t like riding roller coasters or can’t deal with pranks in movies such as “Jackass,” don’t go see it in a theater. It’s that simple. However, if you could sit through Daniel Craig’s ball busting scene in “Casino Royale,” you should be more than OK with “Hours.”
For those counting celebrities at home, some of the high profile guests at the premiere included Orlando Bloom, Mark Ruffalo, “True Blood’s” Joe Manganiello and Minnie Driver. Needless to say, this is one movie and premiere, they’ll never forget.
For a taste of Danny Boyle’s latest masterpiece, check out six new clips below.
“127 Hours” opens in New York and Los Angeles Friday.