On Friday, April 25, 2003, Aron Ralston (James Franco) prepares for a day of canyoneering in Utah’s Canyonlands National Park as he drives to the trailhead at night. The next morning he rides through the park on his mountain bike, aiming to cut 45 minutes off the guide book’s estimate for the time needed to reach his destination. He is on foot, running along a bare rock formation when he sees two hikers,Kristi (Kate Mara) and Megan (Amber Tamblyn), apparently lost. Ralston convinces the pair that he is a trail guide and offers to show them a much more interesting route than the one they had been trying to find.
He leads them through Robbers Roost area narrow canyons, including a blind jump into an underground pool, where the three film themselves repeating the plunge using Ralston’s video camera. As they part company, Kristi and Megan invite Ralston to a party they’re holding the next night, and he promises to attend. However, they doubt he will show up.
Ralston continues into Blue John Canyon, through a narrow passage where boulders are suspended, wedged between the walls of rock. As he descends, one boulder is jarred loose, falling after Ralston to the bottom of the canyon and smashing his right arm against the canyon wall, trapping him.
He initially yells for help, but the extreme isolation of his location means that nobody is within earshot. As he resigns himself to the fact that he is on his own, he begins recording a video diary on his camera and using the larger blade on his pocket multi-tool to attempt to chip away at the boulder. He also begins rationing his water and food.
Character to watch: James Franco as Aron Ralston.
Journal your answers to the following questions after you watch the movie.
- How does this particular character’s journey compare with yours?
- Did the character develop certain characteristics during the movie that you have or that you would like to have? If so, what are those characteristics?
- What obstacles did this character face? What was his or her biggest challenge?
- What would you have done differently if you had been in the same position as the character?
- Is this character the type of person you would be friends with? Why or why not?