Last week I was in Los Angeles for the American Film Market and a friend of mine invited me to see a private screening of the new Danny Boyle movie, 127 Hours, starring James Franco. It turned out to be the L.A. premiere of the film with red carpet, stars, limousines and after-parties.
Five days have passed since that night and I still think about that movie. That night I really didn't want to watch that film: I just landed from New York, I hadn't eaten all day and my feet hurt, plus I had read the (positive) review on the New Yorker and found out that: a) it is a movie based on a true story (I'm so tired of true stories in movies!) b) the protagonist ends up mutilating himself to escape a sure death. I have a problem with blood on screen. I'm fine if I get injured, but if a person bleeds in a movie, I change the channel or at least lower the volume.
The hour and a half that followed was amazing. James Franco proved to be a very good actor, subtle and intense (and handsome, which doesn't hurt). I experienced every emotion on his face and the spiral of madness and desperation the young man is captured into and at the same time a strong imperative to live that fuels his forced captivity. It was a hymn to life, despite everything.
Since then, I thought about that movie often. Sometimes life scares me and fear traps me (literally) in my house, paralyzed. I even bought a mug that I use every morning with an Eleanor Roosevelt quote on it, Do one thing every day that scares you. But 127 Hours works magic on me. As soon as I think about the strength of this man and what it took him to do that one thing that scared him in order to live, that's a trigger; I'm no longer scared anymore.
Now, I'm sure that if I hadn't seen this movie on a big screen, surrounded by several hundreds of people like me, glued to the screen, if I saw that movie on the small bit of plastic of an airplane entertainment set, or at home on TV or streaming on my computer, it would be different. And I thought about that because many people that I know in Italy (where, unfortunately there is no Netflix and I don't think there is pay-per-view) watch movies illegally streaming contents off Internet. It is such a habit that people (mostly young people) don't even consider it against the law: it is just a way to watch movies in the comfort of their homes.
What I'm saying is obvious: a movie is much more enjoyable on a big screen. But people adapt and so many of my friends will watch this movie on their small laptops and will not feel what I felt, when on 127 Hours the camera slowly raises from the canyon where James Franco is trapped yelling at the top of his voice, only to hear his screams fading away, the more we raise above the mountains and up and up where few crows and eagles are flying, in the vast and unforgiving world, oblivious of the solitary struggle of a man experiencing for the first time how painful it is to be alone.
I hope my friends will go to the theater and watch this movie, with other people, in the dark voyage that is a movie theater experience. And I hope that in the future they will search for the next time Metropolis or 2001 Space Odyssey are screened in an art house in their cities. I hope that they will switch off their computers and pay a ticket to honor the labor and the art that was put into making a movie.