It seems that 99.9% of the time, movies fail to live up to the hype of the well-written books they are based on. Such is the case with “127 hours,” based on the book “Between a Rock and a Hard Place” by Aron Ralston.
I saw the movie a few years ago through my Netflix’s account. It was interesting enough, and gruesome enough to make me close my eyes when the Ralston character, played by James Franco, amputated his own arm, but I hadn’t planned to read the book after seeing the movie. Usually I read the book first, and since it hadn’t happened that way, I shrugged the reading off.
But then I found out at the beginning of this year that Inyo County had chosen “Between a Rock and a Hard Place” for its annual Community Reads book, and Mono County was co-sponsoring a visit from Ralston to the Eastern Sierra. It was a good excuse to pick up the book and read about the harrowing account directly from Ralston’s pen.
Immediately two things stuck out that had not been portrayed in the movie. Ralston shared a similar point of view to that of many Eastern Sierrans. He writes:
“There’s a mostly unspoken acknowledgement among the voluntarily impoverished dues-payers of our towns that it’s better to be fiscally poor yet rich in experience — living the dream — than to be traditionally wealthy but live separate from one’s passions … Better to be a penniless local than the affluent visitor.”
While some Mammoth Mountain employees may not fully agree this week (see layoff story), many worker bees in the Eastern Sierra may be able to relate.
The second notable portion of the book that wasn’t stressed enough in the movie were Ralston’s flashbacks of the many experiences he had in his life prior to getting his arm stuck under the chockstone. The reader feels like they are with him as he “rings both the bells,” in Crested Butte and loses friends after pressuring them to ski a bowl that winds up avalanching and carrying the group with it, nearly killing one of them.
These memories and flashbacks are what seem to keep Ralston alive. While it may have been too tough to fully express these memories in the film, without them, it seems Ralston would have quickly lost his mind and his will to live during his ordeal.
But don’t listen to me. You can hear exactly what got him through those 127 hours of confinement straight from the horse’s mouth this Tuesday, March 6 in Bishop.
The Community Reads event is a two-month program that runs from the end of January to the end of March, and is sponsored by the Inyo County Superintendent of Schools. The Mono County Office of Education is also helping sponsor Ralston’s appearance.
“It’s a big deal to host speakers of this caliber,” said Sondra Petersen, Community Reads Program Coordinator.
Ralston will speak at 10:45 a.m. to school students and then again at noon to the general public. Admission is free and the public event will be held at the Charles Brown Auditorium. Attendees are encouraged to bring their lunch and enjoy Ralston’s tale, followed by a Q and A and a book signing. Books will be on sale at the event.