Friday, February 11, 2011

127 Hours and The King's Speech

In 127 Hours, Aaron Ralston (James Franco) is the cocksure mountain climber who gets pinned in a narrow Utah canyon and famously ends up cutting off his own arm to free himself.  Though he realizes soon after the accident that he'll probably lose the arm, Aaron takes five agonizing days to actually take the initiative and do what has to be done.  In that time, he ponders his life and the mistakes that led him to that point. He meditates, in his dehydrated state, on his attitudes, his relationships, and his life. The movie makes it clear that without having the time to reflect in the face of death, he would never had achieved the epiphany of self-awareness that led him to free himself.  "That rock was waiting for me my whole life," he says, "The minute I was born, every breath that I've taken, every action has been leading me to this crack on the outer surface."

In the King's Speech, the future King George VI (Colin Firth) fights a debilitating stutter and seeks help from Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), an Australian speech therapist with unusual methods.  While Lionel can help "Bertie" with a few tricks and exercises, it's not until the future king opens up about his anxieties and troubled past that lasting progress can begin. After Bertie reluctantly takes on the role of king - a responsibility he never thought he'd have and one that he has dreaded his whole life - England is thrust into a war with Germany and the country finds itself in need of a leader with a strong voice.  Though it is by no means easy, it is clear that he never would have been able to do it at all without help from Lionel and the self awareness that came from his epiphany.

In each film, our main character must face the past that led him to a defining moment. Though their stakes and situations are very different, they must both muster their courage to endure the unthinkable.

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