October 28, 2010 / 3:50 PM / 7 years ago

London film festival ends with Boyle climbing drama

LONDON (Reuters) - The 2010 London film festival ends on Thursday with the European premiere of “127 Hours,” British director Danny Boyle’s retelling of the true story of a climber who cuts off his own arm to survive.

Starring James Franco as real-life survivor Aron Ralston, the majority of the movie is set in a tight, claustrophobic space between rock faces and focuses on the mountaineer as he struggles to free his arm crushed under a boulder.

As exhaustion and desperation set in throughout the five-day ordeal, the action builds toward the grisly point of no return.

Boyle was asked what he would do in Ralston’s situation. The American mountaineer was forced to amputate his lower right arm when he was trapped in a remote Utah canyon in 2003.

“I think one of our things going into this project is that we’d all do it - and if you didn’t have a knife you’d chew it off which is an extraordinary thing to say,” Boyle told a news conference after the movie was screened to the press.

“Animals do it the whole time and when everything is stripped away, yes, you would.”

EXAMPLE OF HUMAN WILL

Franco described the story as “an incredible example of human will.” He added that Boyle had pushed him hard to make his performance as authentic as possible.

“I didn’t cut my own arm off. But Danny does like to push the boundaries a bit, or push his actors,” Franco said.

He described one scene, a single, 22-minute take which left his arm purple and bruised.

”The early scene in the movie where the actor has been trapped by a boulder, in the spirit of Danny’s exploration -- because I don’t think he actually planned to film this way -- he said ‘Try and pull your arm out, do anything you can, bash yourself against the rock, knee it, kick it, yank, pull.

“‘And don’t stop until I say cut.’ I said ‘All right, I‘m up for it, just make sure you get it on the first take.”

The premiere brings the curtain down on the annual festival, which this year included 201 feature films and 112 shorts from 68 countries.

Boyle, an Oscar-winner for his Indian drama “Slumdog Millionaire,” received a lifetime achievement award from festival organizer the British Film Institute at a gala dinner late on Wednesday, and Russian movie “How I Ended This Summer” picked up the prize for best film.

Writing by Mike Collett-White

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