I was living in Boulder when this story emerged, and I remember vividly reading about the gruesome details of what Aron had to do in order to survive. He came out with a book called "Between a Rock and a Hard Place," which I haven't read but will immediately go out and purchase for a good read. Several of the people in the theater were there alone, with their friends and family deciding to stay home. No wonder. Most of them were afraid, as I was, of getting totally grossed out by the graphic depiction of what Ralson had to do. But it wasn't at all the focus of the movie.
Danny Boyle, the director of this movie (he also made Slumdog Millionaire, which I also loved), decided to tell the story of how Aron got to where he was, the mistakes he made, and his desire to live. Rotten Tomatoes gives the movie a 93% freshness rating, and the reason why is made quite clear in a review by Mike McGranaghan at The Aisle Seat (click for his full review):
127 Hours is not a movie about a guy who cuts off his own arm; it's a movie about a guy who chooses to live. My initial instinct was one of horror, of the thought that I could never do what Aron Ralston did. In Boyle's hands, I walked away feeling the opposite. The strength of the film is that it so vividly portrays what Ralston went through that, when the moment comes, you understand perfectly why he took such drastic measures - and you realize that, under these same circumstances, you would do the same thing.Make no mistake, the whole arm cutting part was gruesome, as I knew it would have to be and remain true to the story. Although I wanted to read the book earlier, I was afraid of all the details that friends had relayed to me. Now I know I can handle it (although I did cover my eyes in the movie during one scene). I left the theater in tears of happiness as I saw pictures of the real Aron Ralston with his wife and infant son, who appeared as a premonition in some of his hallucinations.
After having seen it once, I could see it again, and think it might not be so difficult to watch those scenes. But first, I'll read his book. Franco should definitely be receiving an Oscar nomination, if not a win, and the movie deserves to be recognized too, in my estimation. After having resisted seeing the movie, now I'm really glad I overcame my reluctance.