Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park

127 Hours Showcases Utah's Wilderness

January 26, 2011, 10:43 am

This week 127 Hours, the inspirational tale of hiker Aron Ralston's survival in the Utah wilderness, grabbed a total of six Academy Awards nominations. The film managed to break into a couple of the major categories, including Best Picture and Best Actor. 


Exploring the arches and rocks in the Utah canyons can be one of the most breathtaking and relaxing experiences for hikers. But for Ralston, the journey turned stressful and life threatening. Canyonlands National Park is closely located to Blue John Canyon where Ralston famously became trapped. The film was shot in Moab, Utah and captures the amazing beauty of the red rock wilderness.


The film is directed by Danny Boyle, who won the Academy Award in 2009 for his direction of Slumdog Millionaire. But some may wonder, how exciting can watching a guy sit in the same spot for five days possibly be? Prepared to be thrilled.


The film takes viewers through Ralston's (played by James Franco) initial voyage out to the canyon, fearless exploration of hidden lakes and the tragic incident that leads to his arm becomes lodged underneath a boulder. While trapped underneath the fallen rock, Ralston reflects on his life. Visions of family, friends and past adventures flash vividly in his brain, helping viewers understand the complexity of our fallen hero. Ralston spends 127 harrowing hours fighting off the elements, exhaustion, low supplies and his own regrets.


Boyle's central focus is Ralston, but through brilliant camera angles, timely sunshine and natural colors, the canyon itself become a character. Movie goers realize that the canyon itself is full of life and extremely capable of taking it away.  The meandering rocks carved out by years of erosion being to play mental games.


Franco throws in his own stellar performance, often talking to himself, cracking jokes, mock interviewing himself, reflecting on his camera and attempting numerous failed escape plans. His desperation and will to survive purses through his drained and dirty body. And when it is finally time for our hiker to be freed with a pen knife, it is a scene not intended for the squeamish. The film received an R rating for language and disturbing content.


Together, these elements combine to create an amazingly inspirational and human story. Although 127 Hours is a spectacular account of Ralston's incredible tale of survival, it is a situation that could have been avoided. While hiking, it is important to remember to bring along a navigation device like a GPS and even a map and compass as backup. Extra food and water supplies are always good to have on hand. Always go hiking with others and if you choose to go solo, always tell someone where you are heading off to!


For more tips on safe hiking from the American Hiking Society, go to


For more information about the film check out


To discover more about the parks of Utah, visit