Helmer takes many directions to achieve impact

Danny Boyle, former bad boy of the British cinema whose aggressive directing style was established early on with 1994′s “Shallow Grave,” has become an Oscar-winning elder statesman. “127 Hours,” his follow-up to the multi-Academy Award-decorated “Slumdog Millionaire,” is based on the real-life story of rock climber who takes extreme measures to escape from being trapped by a boulder in a remote canyon.

Inspiration: “I heard about the story in 2003 and, like a lot of people, was fascinated by it. When I read the book (Aron Ralston’s ‘Between a Rock and a Hard Place’), I didn’t react to it the way it was presented. It was being presented as a superhero story. It’s so easy to see this story as another solo achievement. And it wasn’t actually. And that’s what I felt the spirit of the film was.”

Cracking the storytelling nut: “(Ralston’s book) splits up into alternate chapters and then the other chapters would feature the back story, if you like, or the story of people looking for him. So I wanted to tell the story entirely from the point of view of the actor from the canyon. So you’re not watching a slightly cool documentary, which is full of facts. What you’re watching is the journey of the actor.”

Casting coupe: “When we met (James Franco), it was not great actually. I thought he was stoned. He was virtually asleep. I thought, ‘Has he even read it? Does he know we’re even here?’ The second meeting was wonderful and he read for us and we knew then we had our guy… He brought directness, but then he has this great comic ability, which I blame ‘Pineapple Express’ for. It makes him a truly rounded actor. The feeling of ease he has with the camera is extraordinary. He surfs into scenes, like floats into them. I’d always understood that intellectually that relaxation was necessary, but I could see it in action and learned about it and how to use it.”

Visual Style: “It’s visceral really. I don’t want you to truly watch the film — I want you to feel it The most wonderful thing I can feel in the cinema is when you’re mesmerized. You feel like you’ve been taken there, wherever it is. So I’ll use any technique to take you there really….You want the screen to pulsate and then you don’t have to wear stupid (3D) glasses.”

More articles from Eye on the Oscars: The Director Preview:
Auds entertained by pics’ royal pains | The ‘Inception’ phenomenon | A live-action approach to animation
First Person: Six helmers behind some of the year’s most buzzed-about pics talk about their inspiration
Darren Aronofsky | Danny Boyle | Lisa Cholodenko | Debra Granik | Mike Leigh | John Cameron Mitchell

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