Sunday, November 28, 2010

a one-legged car crashin' chick "reviews" 127 hours

This is a post about my emo-adventures while seeing the movie 127 Hours yesterday. I cannot imagine that anything I could say here would be a spoiler for any movie go-er (I think by now y'all know what this movie is about, right?? The movie is based on a true story about a few adventure filled days in the life of Aron Ralston, where he gets trapped by a falling boulder while hiking out in NoMansLand).
If you DON'T know what this movie is about, and were planning on going for the punchline and want to be surprised? can just come back tomorrow when I'll be talking about fuzzy handknit blankets ;-)

Oh. And this has turned out to be a long post, so grab a coffee.


I'm not sure how accurately I can describe my sitting-on-the-fence feelings about whether or not to go see 127 Hours.

I am an amputee. I lost my leg a car wreck. I am not defined by my disability. Well, I don't define myself that way. You might define me that way. It's definitely an unavoidable topographical feature of my physical landscape, so to I guess if you were asked to describe me, you'd perhaps start off by saying, "brown hair, brown eyes," just out of politeness....but I bet you'd end up having to describe me as "that one-legged chick," pretty quickly. But for me it's been almost 7 years now, I sometimes still forget that I only have one leg. Being one-legged hasn't slowed me down much or left me in the corner sitting on a pity-pot. I teach dance, I've hiked through lava tubes, climbed up into helicopters, blah blah blah...

Even though my disability does not define me, what has tweaked my personality considerably was the "2 Hours" right after the car crash happened. I spent it trapped in the car, in a ditch, where no one could see me, with my leg pinned by a guardrail (in actuality, my leg was amputated by that guard rail, I just didn't know it--thank god). And I was awake. And alert. And I was trying to get out. And I went through way more emotions than you might imagine possible during those "2 Hours", and lemme tell ya', it is those moments that have made a permanent impression on who I am today....far more than gaining a physical disability.

I like to think I'm not hung-up on the memories of those "2 Hours". I mean, I really have moved on with life in soooo many ways, but to be honest, they sometimes create some sort of whacked out post-traumatic stress type thing in me. For example. Perhaps I am in a parking lot and I smell radiator fluid. It might cause my mind to fly backwards in time in a way that will cause me to fall apart for a moment. It's fast. If you were standing next to me in that parking lot at that moment, you might not even see the shift in me. I'd say I've done a pretty fair job of learning how to work with the flashback-y stuff when it comes up. I do have moments though when it is a bit bigger than me, and yes, thank you, I've gone to therapy and all that, so there's no need to suggest it.

Mostly what has happened with my feelings about those "2 Hours" is that I have chosen to funnel it into dance, and especially into my volunteer work. I visit with seniors that are essentially "trapped" in convalescent hospitals, and not getting visitors. Now, I was already doing that work for over a decade before my accident, but it's been brought to a whole new wonderful level since the accident, and that topic is a whole 'nother post (a series of posts, actually...and my goal is to create a structure for that for next year's blogging around here).

Anyhow. THE MOVIE. And my fence sitting. About whether to even go see it or not.

There are certain movies that I just cannot go see. It would be like intentionally waltzing into a parking lot and sniffing around for radiator fluid. I cannot go see any of the "Saw" movies, for example. I can't do it. And when I heard that's Aron Ralston's story was going to be made into a movie, I knew deep down inside, that as interested as I was in his story, I would never go see this movie. Never. Ever. Never Ever. There isn't enough anti-anxiety medicine in the world that could keep me from experiencing my own post-traumatic stress while seeing this movie. I mean, really. Do you think this one-legged girl, who freaks out occasionally over her "2 Hours" of being trapped is really going to be able to handle the visuals of a soon-to-be one-armed guy and his ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY-SEVEN hours?!?!?

I think not.

James Franco.

James Franco is the star of this movie, and ohhhhh my dears, how I love James Franco. I have always loved James Franco, and I even have a few dvd's of him in my stash, and I pop them in from time to time when I need to see that face (that face!!). I have always loved his ability as an actor to communicate so much with his eyes and face. I just love watching his stuff. And so....hence the fence sitting. If I skip the movie, I skip seeing one of my favorite actors in what I bet will be an Oscar nominating role for him. Still. I wasn't going to go see this movie. No way, Jose. The fear of a radiator fluid moments won, and not seeing the movie was just going to have to be my loss. Period.

Until yesterday. TheMostImportantGuy and I wanted to get out for a bit, and since I was still sick, something low key like a movie seemed like the best bet. We looked at what was playing nearby and weren't agreeing on much. I knew that he realllly wanted to see this movie, and he knew I realllly couldn't tolerate it, but I asked him to describe to me some of the reviews the movie has been getting lately, like about how it was filmed in an unusual way to show what was going in the character's head....and then I watched a trailer with scenes I hadn't seen before, and it just looked less "hype-y" than the first clips I saw....and so off we went.

And it was a great movie.

James Franco as Aron Ralston

The movie-nerd in me wants to tell you that the way it was filmed and edited really did get you inside the head of the character. And that James Franco rocked it (and not just because I already am a fan). And that the soundtrack/soundscore was so unusual and amazing, that I think I might just have to buy it.

The "2 Hour"/AmpuTeeHee part of me however, had an entirely different review to give, and I really wanted to say it out loud to TheMIG, but I had laryngitis (still do). So I sat there all meepy-weepy and teary-eyed for a bit until I could get my thoughts together and use the smallest amount of words possible.

Let's see if I can recapture it. I know it's going to get wordier because I'm typing, and that kind of sucks, but oh we go:

If I could make a list of allllll the things that the character went through while he was trapped for his 127 Hours, I can honestly tell you that within my own "2 Hours," I'd say I experienced 95% of them, too. I have this hunch that going through this range of experiences may be universal when faced with death, and that it might not be tied to how long you are trapped and feel like you are dying, but instead how close you get to dying. Like, maybe if you die in 2 seconds you go through the same amount of thoughts and stages, just really really fast, and that's why they call it "watching your life flash before your eyes." Like maybe you go through all of these emotions whether it is 2 seconds or 2 minutes or 2 hours or 2 days or 2 months. I dunno. Like I said, a crazy hunch, not based at all on research or fact, obviously.

But let me tell you, I did, or thought ,or experienced, almost all of the things the character did. All of it. Moments of clarity. Moments of panic. Resting. Flipping out. Seeing old moments. Working through moments that hadn't happened yet. Being visited by animals. Seeing the beauty in my immediate surroundings. Seeing family. Creating and acting out strategies for escape. Giving up. Being angry. Begging Sleeping. For one minute. Waking up alert again. Thinking about TheMIG. Realllly thinking about MyFavoriteKid. Feeling my body shutting down organ by organ. Coming to a very solid understanding that my whole life had brought me to that moment.

And so I walked out of this movie meepy, because one of things I live with now, is that I really have no way of describing to people those "2 Hours" and how it fuels my "today". I'm not articulate enough. I hate that. Not being able to get people to understand what that those "2 Hours" was like sometimes creates a whole new level of isolation in me that sits on top of the fear and loneliness that is already there from being stuck in the car. It's like I'm in some SecretSurvivorsClub and I'm the only one I know with the password or something. Sometimes I try to explain those "2 Hours" to people, and folks nod their head and say that they understand, but I just don't know if you can really get it unless you can put yourself there.

But I think that this movie puts you there.

And while that makes for stressful move viewing, it's kinda cool.

So now maybe a few thousand people might understand this better (read as: understand me better). I have to believe it might, because it sounds like Mr.Aron himself might at least have his own that's one person with the password, no? And hey, James Franco himself had to pull his acting up out of somewhere, right? As far as I know, he's never cheated death personally. So he actually had to understand this. No?

Feeling understood. That's what made me tear up.

will the real Aron Ralson please stand up....

and climb mountains....

and do the disco....

So, I hope this post hasn't been a downer, kids. It wasn't intended to be. Just trying to document for myself how things effect me, is all....and bringing you along for the ride ;-)


Mouse said...

I'm absolutely fascinated by your review of the movie- I just saw the preview of it last night and was sort of stunned that they had made a movie about it. There is absolutely no way I could watch that movie- just thinking about it and seeing the photo of the movie guy pinned by the rock is enough to have me breathing into a paper bag.

Lorena said...

I. Love. You.

Joan-in-Albuquerque said...

Thank you so much for sharing with us. I love you too.

JennaKate said...

Thank you - your ability to capture your experiences and articulate them so that you can be understood is one of the reasons I keep on reading your blog (even when there's no knitting!).

My husband really wants to see 127 Hours and I have this huge aversion to it - the whole concept of watching a film about someone's suffering isn't something I think I can tolerate. I work with women with addictions, and feel like as a "story-keeper" for them, I definitely have to know where my tolerance level for suffering is. It gives us all something to think about, whether we see the film or not.

Linda said...

Glory, Hallelujah, what a wonderful review and revisiting of your two hours/Ralston's 127 hours.
Thank you so much, for sharing all that you've surmounted and for all that you show me there is to give, pre- and post amputation.

l_coller said...

I am amazed at your description of what you went through with the car accident! You do have the words to communicate all that; we just don't have the ability to understand. Our frame-of-reference doesn't have room for the 2-hour experience. But reading your review may open each of us up to seeing that experience not as the nightmare it was, as it happened, but as the life-changing event it became. Thank you.

Pep said...


First, I apologize for my little English, so sometimes I have to use the online translator.

I came to your blog in a random read ... I have called my attention, this post and the way you refer to how to describe a person ... I think that unfortunately most people see only what you define as an inevitable feature of your physical landscape ... Maybe that's just comfortable or easy for others, but unfortunately marked with adjectives above everything else ... Today I see myself in your lyrics in your post and am delighted to see you're a very positive person ... I hope some day I also learn to be ...

A hug from the island of Mallorca (Spain)