127 Hours – motifs

Part of the genius of 127 Hours (screenplay by Danny Boyle + Simon Beaufoy) are the recurring motifs which illuminate the major theme – that every living thing on earth is dependent on each other. We cannot survive without each other. But how do the writers portray this theme visually?

Two major motifs are Light and Water. Watch the movie again and see how prominent these are and how the writers and director uses them. And what are Light and Water ? Sources of Life itself. We can’t survive without either. Our very planet would die and so would we.

Another motif the writers use with subtle but powerful effect are how other creatures we share the earth with (symbolized by birds and insects) are also interdependent: the raven which flies overhead each day; the ants crawling on Aron’s skin. Birds feed on insects. Aron jokes in a seemingly irrelevant line of dialogue that almost escapes us:

‘I’ve peed twice but no number 2’s – which must disappoint my insect friends.’

But far from a throw-away line this is actually a profound statement about how we living creatures depend on each other – feed on each other. Literally.

A third motif used in this multi-layered movie is familial love, especially between child + parent. The memory of his father’s hug juxtaposed with the repeated use of his mother’s voice on the answer phone asking him to call her back, to connect.

We are all connected. We cannot survive alone. The laws of nature confirm this. No living thing can survive without  another. We all need Light + Water. Without them we could not survive.

What are your themes, and how are you expressing them visually and through dialogue?


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