What motivated me to see this was the fact that Danny Boyle was directing it, with it being his first film since Slum Dog Millionaire. After this I heard that it was based on a true story. The story is about a climber, who in order to survive, has to lose his own arm.

While I was watching it I didn't think there were any metaphors that I would be able write about. However, as the intensity of the film grew, my mind changed completely and I realised how much of a profound film it was.

These metaphors of the film are my personal view and are based on my own interpretation of what these metaphors are and there meaning. They are in no way the right or only interpretation, they are just my view. And as this film is based on a true story, I would add this is also not a judgment on Aron Ralston's life and is just for the purpose of looking at the metaphor's contained within the film.

This will also mean that I will miss out certain parts and only describe what stood out for me and what I felt was significant. It will not be like a story board where I will describe the whole story.

So with the disclaimer of sorts out of the way, let's begin.

The start and looking for the Swiss knife

The film begins with Aron Ralston (James Franco) collecting all of the different objects he will need for the journey ahead of him. When the camera is on the cupboard, we see his hand searching around for the Swiss knife. But as the cupboard is high up he can't quite reach the knife and he therefore assumes that it isn't there. As I think about this it brings to my attention the importance of awareness and being as present as we can in each moment. He acts in haste and as a result he misses something that will become vital. Out of our own impatience and need to do something else, we can end up compromising our self and even our safety. If Aron had allowed himself the time, he could have used a chair to have a real look.

The start of the climbing journey

It is here that we get a glimpse of Aron's character. In many ways he seems to be a bit careless, with the kind of hobby he has, the way he falls of his bike and then get straight back up again as if nothing has happened. Through him going on this mountain climbing journey on his own, we can see that he prefers to be on his own as opposed to doing things with others. This could be from his early experiences as a child of feeling as though he wasn't accepted by the people around him or worthy and as a result felt isolated. So now he has a preference to being on his own.

It is here that he meets Kristi (Kate Mara) and Megan (Amber Tamblyn). They are currently lost and with his guidance, he helps them to find their way. They invite him to a party and are left wondering if he will actually turn up. But it isn't long before he is soon on his way. Holding firm to his Identity and preferring to go it alone.

Entering the rock and getting caught up

It is during this time that the real depth of the film start's to unwind and we begin to see the deeper side to Aron's nature.

Once his arm has become trapped, we come to see, like a wave, his frustrations and the conflict he has with trying to do everything himself. At this point we soon find out that not only has he not got a cell phone to contact any one, but he also hasn't told anyone where he was going. This further shows what can happen not only in this situation, but what can happen to us as human being's, when we cut ourselves of and isolate ourselves from others.

Through our own perception of how people are, it can become unpleasant to be around others, and through this we can end up cutting people off from our life. When ultimately, it is not the people that are the problem, it is our perceptions of people that create the problems.

It is also here that Aron begins to play back on his camera the videos he had taken of Kristi and Megan. Just seeing the fun and connection he experienced with them fills him with happiness and an appreciation of how important people are to him.

During the latter moments of having his arm stuck, Aron begins to have visions of his family sitting on a sofa right in front of him. They are all smiling and are looking right at him. At this moment we get an even deeper glimpse that his heart yarns to feel connected to his family and how living a life of being his own mountain is not how he truly wants to be.

He also has visions of his girlfriend, and we see him being at a sports game where she leaves him and says he is going to be a lonely man or something similar. This fills him with frustration and regret. This is further evidence that he likes to cut people out of his life and go it alone. However, we see that this is not what Aron really wants and could be seen as a form of self sabotage. Perhaps through his early experiences of people, his mind has associated a sense of safety with being alone and yet at the same time his heart longs to be around others. Another way of looking at this is how our conscious mind can often want one thing and our unconscious mind can want something else.

Breaking free from the rock

With Aron running out of water and just about giving up, he finds an incredible amount of courage to cut his own arm off as a way to free himself from the rock. Along with his fear of death, maybe his own desire and longing to see his family and friends once more is what motives him to do this.

Although he has just lost part of his arm, his joy at being free once more, has made the loss seem, if only momentarily, insignificant.

Help arrives

Upon leaving the rock, Aron begins to swagger out of the area to a place that contains water. Here he practically falls into the water, even though it is far from clean. After he has gone so long without any form of liquid, seeing water after such a long time must have been a real blessing for him and filled him with gratitude.

As he continues to walk away from the rock he spots three people in the distance and shouts for help. Here we see the magnificence of the human race. He calls for water and without hesitation the women offers him water. It is not a surprise that it was the women and not the man who offered the water, as females are generally more in touch with their nurturing nature than men are

After this we see other walkers and shortly after a rescue helicopter arrives to take Aron to a hospital. For so long he had felt alone and isolated and from that moment he was touched by the human heart. From this metaphor, we see that although we might have moments of frustration and despair, there is always assistance around us if we are open to receiving that assistance.

The Reunion

After the helicopter rescue, we see that he has fulfilled his dream to be reunited with his family. And that his longing to feel connected to them has been archived. He is also pictured with his partner and a child. It is an incredible moment to see that after a situation of such despair he has achieved what he always wanted.


When I look at the film as a metaphor I see Aron's story as being about how we can often take things for granted in life and not appreciate the importance of what we have. And it is often only after we have lost something that we begin to appreciate what we have. Whether it is the family we have, the friends or our own health, we can easily become caught up in wanting more and forgetting what we already have. Our own sense of gratitude becomes a distance memory. I believe that the line they have used on the poster 'every second counts' illustrates this perfectly.

What happened to Aron is an extremely rare occurrence. However, I think we all have events in our life that give us the opportunity to sit up and take notice of what really matters to us and what we should be grateful for. With our interpretation of those events, defining what we do about what happens to us.

Author's Bio: 

My name is Oliver J R Cooper and I have been on a journey of self awareness for over nine years and for many years prior to that I had a natural curiosity.

For over two years, I have been writing articles. These cover psychology and communication. This has also lead to poetry.

One of my intentions is to be a catalyst to others, as other people have been and continue to be to me. As well as writing articles and creating poetry, I also offer personal coaching. To find out more go to - http://www.oliverjrcooper.co.uk/

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