127 Hours – Case Study

The scene which I have decided to study to highlight the feeling of disgust is the amputation scene from 127 Hours.  The scene has a guitar track underlaying the whole thing.  The scene begins with James Franco’s character Aron figuring out what he must do to get out of where he is.  He has been trapped in a ravine with his arm trapped between the side and a large boulder which he cannot move.  He first of all realises he needs to break his own arm.  So we see him begin to push on his arm the opposite direction that his elbow for a while, we see his face wince in pain as he is doing this, he is moaning and breathing heavily.  The moment we see his arm break he throws his head back in pain and we hear a loud snap, which sounds like a large tree branch snapping.  He moans in pain but does not scream when this happens and starts laughing angrily.  He then slowly takes out a small knife from his leatherman with his free hand whilst looking at it.  He then begins to cut into his forearm, and as he starts he moans a little in pain but also a distorted snare sound is heard when he makes the first incision.  As he opens up the cut there is then a distorted drum track added to the guitar very subtlety.  We then hear Aron breathing heavily as he wraps his arm with a climbing strap and carabiner to tighten it into a tourniquet.  He cuts more and more into his arm whilst breathing heavily.  Once he has cut a lot of the way into his arm we then see he has exposed a nerve that he has to cut through.  He grabs a plier from his leatherman and pinches it and we hear a very loud, intense, metallic, distorted, static ringing and see him in very intense pain.  The sound represents the pain he is feeling in his head as he grates his teeth and throws his head back.  He then touches his nerve with his finger for longer and the sound is reintroduced for longer and he screams.  There is then a tremolo of strings to match the shaking movement of the camera that is introduced as he is pushing his finger underneath the nerve, he is clenching his teeth and breathing very heavily through them.  He stops for a second to compose and realises what he has to do and pulls the knife out.  He places the sharp side on the knife under the nerve and begins pulling on it, and the noise is back and louder than before and continues the whole time.  There is a cut to a shot of Aron’s face looking completely brain dead to highlight just how sore this actually is.  The sound gets quieter and quieter the harder he pulls on the nerve until he snaps it.  When he does finally snap it all the sound dissipates except from a very airy ambient sound.  The reason I think this is so effective is because it coincides with what Aron must be feeling at that point, of complete nothingness due to the immense pain he is feeling.  There is then tribal drumming introduced as he comes back to reality and breathes heavily and intensely through his teeth.  There is flashes between him looking braindead and him screaming to show the difference between what he is feeling physically and mentally.  Aron then starts hallucinating and begins to chop off the rest of his forearm, this is accompanied by music rather than sound effects although he is breathing heavily throughout.  As Aron breaks loose from the rock and staggers backwards the music stops, it was a representation of the struggle he was in, from which he is now free.  There is then very airy ambience as Aron looks down at his arm to finally realise what he has just done.  He then staggers up to the boulder shakily in complete silence and proceeds to wrap up his stump of an arm to keep it clean.  As he walks away he turns around and takes a photo of the boulder. I will include a youtube clip of the scene for reference. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=chMGsi2QY68

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Aron has been trapped in this ravine with his arm stuck under this boulder.  A guitar plays lightly underneath the sound effects of Aron breathing as he realises what he has to do.
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Aron breaks the bones in his arms in order to cut through his forearm.  The issue he had amputing before was that he knew he couldn’t cut through his bones with the pen knife.  He uses his body weight and torque off of the boulder to snap the bones in his forearm.  When the bones the crack we hear sounds like a large tree branch snapping.  Aron throws his head back in pain breathing quickly.
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Aron takes out the larger size knife in his pocket knife slowly.  The only sounds we hear are the music and his movement from opening this knife.
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Aron begins cutting through his forearm, we hear the distorted drums get introduced here.  He puts the pen knife in his mouth and opens the wound with his fingers.  He is breathing heavily through the knife.  He then attaches the tourniquet to his arm, tightening it with the carabiner.  Then is when he begins cutting through the arteries and we see a lot of blood coming out of his arm and he says to himself “Don’t mess up” through his teeth.
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Aron places the pliers underneath the nerve in his arm.  This is when we first hear the loud electric static noise.  It is loud, metallic and uncomfortable to listen to, ringing through the front of your skull intensely.  You can see instantly that this is very intensely painful by Aron’s face grating his teeth.  He pokes it again with his finger and moans in pain.  At this point the camera begins shaking, and there are high pitched strings introduced softly to match this camera movement.  
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After a small moment of realisation that this is the only thing he can do to escape., Aron uses the small blade to cut through the nerve in his arm.  The noise is reintroduced but instead of a short burst of sound it continues as the knife continues to pull on the nerve.
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The camera flashes between what is happening physically and emotionally for Aron as we see from this braindead looking shot of him.  The sound continues throughout all of these shots, and he yells as he cuts the nerve finally.
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Aron manages to cut through the nerve and we hear silence but we see him screaming.  There is a ringing noise here but we do not hear the yells fully he is producing by the visuals.  We do hear him screaming but it sounds as though he is very very far away in a very reverberant area, almost as if we are hearing him from way up on the surface.  Once he has cut through the nerve he begins cutting through the rest of his arm.  We again see shots of him looking completely brain dead as well as shots of him hacking away in rage at his arm.  These to represent both how he is feeling emotionally and physically, in my opinion.
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Aron finally breaks free from the boulder by amputating his arm. He staggers back and the music that had been crescendoing disappears.  He breathes hard in disbelief that he has actually managed to break away from the boulder.
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Aron walks back over to the boulder in complete silence to wrap his arm.  He breathes less intensely and looks down at his arm to comprehend what it is he has just done.  He fashions a sling out of a plastic bag, climbing rope and a camera case wrapped around his neck.  We hear him moaning in pain underneath the rustle of the bag as he is strapping himself up.
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As Aron is leaving he turns and takes a photograph of the boulder.  We hear the noise that the camera makes every time that it is turned on and the shutter sound of the camera.

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