127 Hours (AKA Why You Should Always Hike with a Machete)

Update:  Thank you to WordPress for featuring me on FreshlyPressed and thanks to all of you lovely visitors!

Rating: Chocolate Cake

While most of the country was munching on nachos and cheering for their football team of choice, I sat in a movie theatre, ranging among gripping the armrest, covering my eyes, and bawling my eyes out.

127 Hours was way better than I expected it to be.

Now, I should be fair.  I honestly didn’t expect much.  All I knew about it was that it was about a hiker who had an accident and spent 127 hours reflecting on his life before he notably “frees” himself.

I’m all for reflection.  In teacher school, we did reflections all the time.  What I didn’t see was how this was going to create a movie that I would actually want to see.

Well, I was wrong.  There, I admit it.  It was awesome.  It’s not my favorite of the nominees I have seen so far, but it is definitely worth the price of admission at your local movie theatre.

This is not the type of movie you will want to watch over and over again (at least, I won’t want to), but one time is certainly enough to make an impact.

Without further ado, here are 5 lessons (on hiking and life) I learned at the movies yesterday:

  1. Bring an emergency beacon You may think you’re all that and then some.  Even so, have a backup plan.  If something goes wrong (like a rock pinning you in a canyon), you have some way to help yourself.
  2. Tell people what you are doing Sure, it is a nice idea when you are going to do something potentially dangerous to let someone know when and where.  Gasp! You could even bring someone with you!  This ranges from hiking to skiing to a date.
  3. Appreciate the people in your life- Often, we take our wonderful families and friends for granted.  Don’t!  You never know when your time with them may be over.  Instead of wasting your time worrying about people who don’t matter, focus on the people who do.
  4. Think of all possible escape routes- In situations or in physical locations, it is not a bad idea to know how to get out. Get out of bad relationship, get out of a vehicle, get out of a building.  It may just come in handy!  Once you figure out what those routes are, don’t procrastinate.  Get the heck out of there!  Our protaganist waited until he was having hallucinations and on the verge of heart failure to use his escape route.  Yes, he had to be desperate to free himself in the way that he did.  I just found it incredibly frustrating that he (and the audience) knew for days what it was that he was going to have to do, yet he waited until he was almost-dead anyway.  What if he freed himself and couldn’t get out of the canyon because of his dehydration or food deprivation?  That would be the worst ending to a movie, ever.
  5. Bring some trail mix- He would have fared better and longer if he had actually brought more food and water with him.  I find it impressive that he made it for 127 hours on the amount of fuel that he had.  His situation would have been less stressful if he had had some foresight to prepare.  When it doubt, take those extra two minutes to throw something in your bag that could make your life easier-trail mix in his case.

In all, I enjoyed the movie.  How would I rate it though?

Visuals: 4.5/5– They did a lot of funky things with the camera that were cool, but also disorienting.

Plot: 4.5/5-So it definitely has a solid plot.  We all knew exactly what was going to happen, but the writers did a wonderful job at rounding it out and making it interesting.

Acting: 5/5-James Franco, you rock.  I thought your acting was believable.  If I didn’t, I would not have spent the movie with the three c’s- cowering, cringing and crying.

What are your thoughts?

All right Academy Award nominees, bring it on!  Are you going to band together to take down The King’s Speech?  It is my goal to see, review, and invent a treat for every single one of you by Oscar Night.

Academy Award Nominees so far in order…

Trail Granola Mix

What you find below is my base mixture for a granola that packs a nutritional punch and is wonderfully tasty.  Stick to the proportions, but use whatever ingredients you like the best!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups uncooked oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup fruit sauce (applesauce, pureed bananas, etc.)
  • 1 cup nuts of your choice (mix and match or go all with one)
  • 1/2 cup seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, flax,etc.)
  • 1/3 cup dried fruit (raisins, craisins, dried papaya, dried apples, coconut etc.)
  • 1/4 cup sweetener (honey, maple syrup, brown sugar,etc.)
  • 1 tbsp spice (cinnamon, curry, chili pepper, cumin, ginger)

The combination that you see in the picture includes pistachios, pumpkin seeds, dried papaya, pureed banana, coconut, honey, and cinnamon.

Procedure:

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  • Mix all of the ingredients except for the dried fruit together.
  • On a parchment-lined baking sheet, spread out the mixture into an even layer.
  • Bake for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Remove from oven and sprinkle on the dried fruit.
  • Store in an airtight container.  It will keep for about a week.
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55 thoughts on “127 Hours (AKA Why You Should Always Hike with a Machete)

  1. ive always wanted to go hiking but never by myself, but this is a good list on what to bring. i have yet to see the movie but i will try and check it out. i love james franco

  2. Great points, you’re absolutely right. The story is a moving one of the unconquerable human spirit. Of course its also a cautionary tale of what not to do. Great post and the trail mix recipe was a good wrap up.

  3. I was wondering whether I should see this or not. Read descriptions of people getting sick in the movie theaters. Maybe I should go and just close my eyes at the gory bits?

    Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed! I’ll be following your discussions on the other Academy Award nominees.

    1. Yeah, I definitely would suggest covering your eyes at various moments. Also, don’t bring any popcorn or anything into the theatre. You won’t want it!

      Have someone there with you, to hide behind or squeeze, might be help help to you. This movie proved to me that I am not cut out to be a doctor!

  4. I saw this movie and I too was surprised by how much I liked it (I wrote a way less interesting post on it lol). I can’t count how many times I cringed or had too look away in this film. You said, “When it doubt, take those extra two minutes to throw something in your bag that could make your life easier-trail mix in his case” OR you know, his swiss-army knife too haha!

  5. The movie wasn’t terrible – but I agree that it doesn’t need a second viewing.

    But one thing really bothers me about the story: Everyone seems to treat this guy like a hero. I can see how there would be the urge to do this, since generally you can say that in the face of death he was able to do what was necessary to survive. The problem is that the whole thing is due to his own stupidity. He went hiking alone, didn’t tell anyone where he was going, or when he would be back. The fact that he had to cut off his own arms is irrelevant. What if the bolder had actually killed him instead of just getting him stuck?

    The guy doesn’t deserve praise; he deserves to be that example of what can happen to people when they are stupid.

    1. Totally agree that he does not deserve praise to a point (give him some credit he DID cut his own arm off), that was the whole point of the crazy talking to himself scene. I think this movie should be tips on ways to NOT hike in the back country.

  6. I know it is a true story but i just feel like it would be too gruesome for me to watch… I’m a chicken when it comes to…all sorts of blood…. James Franco I do like and cannot wait to see him in the Ginsberg movie…

    1. SPOILER!!!!
      I agree wtih most of the things you wrote. But since I have not seen the movie yet.. Why did you have to tell me about the arms? I was thinking about some other part of his body.

  7. Haven’t seen the movie yet but I’m going to! I love to hike but I know I’ve got limits and always need to be careful. I almost never go alone, if anything I bring my dog!

    That trail mix looks great! Thanks for the post!

  8. Great post, and great idea for a blog. A friend of mine and I are doing something similar over at LoveMeSomeBooks. Good luck w/the post-a-week!

  9. Interestingly I couldn’t care less about the film but I found your blog very interesting. Some real wisdom in your suggestions.

    Nice work.

    Regards

    Stephen

  10. Thanks for the review: I will go watch it soon, knowing it is indeed an interesting and well-made movie.

    I do not agree with your analysis of “lessons” though you’re not far off. I would put it this way: a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) is expensive, at least $150 and up. People have hiked for millenia in the wilds without them. If you are going way off trail, by yourself, and are going to take risks, yeah, it is a good idea. If you are a new hiker, and you need lists like this to help you figure out what to carry, you’ve got bigger problems.

    Hiking is safe when you do it to your skill level. Start with popular trails, graduate towards more remote trails, and don;t go off trail until you really know what you are doing.

    At minimum carry something for shelter (poncho), some way to make fire (a lighter), extra water, a whistle, a knife, some cord, clothing appropriate for changing conditions, and a map and compass, even if they are cheap. And learn how to use them before you need them.

    ALWAYS let someone know where you will be and when you expect to be back, so they can call Search and Rescue if you are not back on time.

    If you want to read more about what you should carry, check out this post: http://wp.me/pB9ey-aA

  11. great post, just one thing though. you say him dehydrating and dying in the canyon would be the worst ending to a movie ever; let’s not forget this is based on a true story– that would be one of the most miserable endings to a life ever. still, great post.

  12. Okay don’t all flame me for this bit of honesty but I felt about this movie the same way I did about “The English Patient”, and “The Titanic” just die already, sink already!
    Okay we all know he’s going to cut his arm off just do it already!
    Torture was watching this movie!
    but I do love James Franco so cute in other flicks.
    Thanks for letting me get this off my chest.

    1. You are completely right! I think that is what frustrated me the most in the movie. He knew he was going to have to do it. Stop twiddling your thumbs (or thumb in this case) and work that pathetic little knife already! This did make the movie torturous, but I felt like that was how “they” wanted us to feel.

  13. I watched the Dateline program about this man this past week and I was riveted to the tv the entire program. I did a lot of squirming and covering my eyes and felt weak whenever he talked about the actual “freeing” himself….I won’t say more for those who haven’t seen the movie or know what the entire story is. I loved reading your review.

  14. Cute blog. I want to know what snack you will invent for the Black Swan. Natalie Portman rocked in her performance, but as a ballerina she ate very little and threw up alot.

  15. Great Blog, and i highly appreciate your tips! I may sound like a jerk, but i refuse to see this movie because i am tired of hearing this guy called a “hero”. I admire what he went through, but i think it’s really stupid to run off hiking without telling anyone where you are and without taking provisions. i want to say to him “congrats for surviving your own stupidity.” so, no matter how much i adore Franco, i can’t in good faith see this movie, but i loved what you had to say about it.

  16. After watching this movie I always leave a note, text my parents (even though they are 1600 miles away) of where I am going and for how long.

    I loved how he went a lil schizo there and was arguing with himself about how sweet he thought of himself and being superman. It just shows we are all human, not invincible. So, never get too cocky, especially in nature because mother nature is unpredictable and will always win. All in all, a good true story that should be watched by any adventurer.

  17. wow, I can’t believe I missed out hearing about this movie! Sounds like a must see for anyone who loves hiking! And I’ll try your recipe next time I go hiking! looks yummy 😀

  18. Good ideas here.

    I want to see the movie, but I heard that people were vomiting and passing out from the gorey arm scene. I don’t know if I could handle it. Maybe when it comes out on DVD I’ll be able to rent it. At least then I can be in the privacy of my own home and I can pause the film.

    Good post!

    marlowesnymph.wordpress.com

  19. Ugh….sounds terrible. I mean why would anyone want to voluntarily go and watch something gruesome out of choice. Sometimes a bad thought planted involuntarily in your mind may cause you harm. Its always important to make informed choices for your entertainment.

  20. Fab posts! I’m so cheap about movies these days, but this, and the King’s Speech are on my list. I read the book when it first came out and actually wrote him a fan email ~ I never do that~ so I’m glad the film honors the book’s tone! Btw, adore granola, gonna try it, cheers!

  21. My grandfather, who’d been a stockman and horsebreaker in the Australian outback, used to tell a story about a boundary rider who’d survived a gruesome accident in the 1920s.

    A boundary rider’s job was to ride the fences on the big cattle and sheep stations, fixing them when broken, keeping an eye on the waterholes, putting down injured stock, and the like. They could be out for weeks at a time, topping up their food from dumps at humpies and shacks built near waterholes.

    My grandfather’s friend had been out doing his rounds when a snake startled his horse. The horse threw him and bolted. Unfortunately for the rider, he came down on a steel star picket—Y-section steel bars used as intermediate posts in runs of fencing. The picket punched through his thigh, ripping a huge gash but luckily not breaking bone or severing an artery.

    Equally fortunately, as it turned out, the rider’s saddlebags had come off, too. He lost one of his waterbottles with the horse, but still had a second plus his swag (blanketroll), flour, canned corned beef, tea, salt and his fencing tools.

    The rider realised that not only was he in a bad way, with no horse and a serious leg injury, but that help was extremely unlikely as he wasn’t expected back at the station for about a week. He also knew that the wound was likely to get infected without cleaning and treatment.

    He couldn’t use his limited amount of water to clean the wound, so he cleaned it with the salt instead. Yes! Eye-watering. Then he tore his spare shirt up to make a pad, put more salt on that and then bound it over the wound with strips of blanket.

    The rider used his tools and the star picket to make a crutch, then staggered and crawled back to the nearest waterhole. It took him a couple of days, and bear in mind that this was in an arid, semi-desert landscape, but he made it.

    As my grandfather said, then came the easy bit: waiting for the boss to realise he was overdue and send out a search party in a truck and on horses to find him. They picked him up nearly a week later.

    Amazingly, despite the distances involved and the long delay in getting to a doctor, the boundary rider didn’t lose his leg. Cleaning it with salt at first, and then with salty water when he’d got back to the waterhole, prevented infection. My grandfather said the bloke had a huge scar to show for it, but he was back out riding within six months.

    They certainly used to make them tough!

    I think Aron Ralston, the real-life hiker, showed much of the same fortitude and determination to survive.

    Of course it’s easy to criticise him after the fact, but as an experienced hiker and climber myself I know that even the best prepared and equipped people can find themselves fighting for their lives due to happenstance or a decision that, in hindsight, was poor. There’s always something unexpected waiting to bite you on the arse. It’s getting out of the situation that counts and, as Ralston showed, even with a minimum of kit it is possible to survive if you can find that fortitude and determination to do what is necessary.

  22. Have been a bit skeptical about watching this movie, though I must say your review nearly has me convinced to grab some friends and go see it. I have a weak stomach though and am worried about the ending…

  23. I would have sat there in shock and horror till I die or try all other possible alternatives, not just go ahead and cut my hand off. It’s surprising how easily some folks suggest that he should have cut his flesh off in the first place. The pain could make you black out while half the flesh is still attached…
    The movie was awesome but there are better nominations too. But James Franco does deserve an oscar this year!

    1. No, I agree. I wasn’t saying that he should be like, “well, I’m stuck, let’s go after the hand!” I just thought that perhaps his survival instinct would kick in when he only has adrenaline left to survive on. It was frustrating to me!

      Go James Franco! I am definitely debating between him and Colin Firth right now.

  24. Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I’ve really enjoyed browsing your blog posts. After all I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again very soon!

  25. I can’t wait to James Franco host the Oscars on Sunday night, although I doubt he’ll win the best actor award. He’s a great actor but the hosting duty seems to be a consolation prize. Also this week I’m looking forward to seeing Aron Ralston himself compete for charity Wednesday night on NBC’s Minute to Win It. He’s a great guy with an amazing story and I’ll definitely be rooting for him.

  26. Nice post. I was checking constantly this blog and I’m impressed! Very helpful info specially the last part 🙂 I care for such information a lot. I was seeking this certain information for a long time. Thank you and best of luck.

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