Monday, December 6, 2010

Between a Rock and a Hard Place: “Floyd Collins” or “127 Hours”?

Before your next rock-climbing trip with Outdoor Action, you should consider seeing the new production of “Floyd Collins” which opened this past weekend at the Matthews Acting Studio at 185 Nassau Street. The well-acted musical, directed by Andrew Linz as his senior thesis, is based on the true story of cave-explorer Floyd Collins who got stuck between rocks and was unable to get out of a cave.

As I watched the musical, I was struck by how similar it was to the new film “127 Hours” that recently opened in the Garden Theatre. The film is based on the story of Aron Ralston whose arm was crushed when a boulder falls and pins it against a canyon wall. Directed by Danny Boyle (“Slumdog Millionaire”) and starring James Franco (“Pineapple Express,” “Spiderman”), it tells an epic story of survival in the desert with no hope of help arriving.

But you’re busy, so which one should you go see? It depends on what you like. “Floyd Collins” is a lively musical, with some very creative musical arrangements. My favorite was a round made out of Floyd’s yodels when he first discovers the cave. Also, the setting of Depression-era Kentucky was very clearly established through the bluegrass music, period costumes, and strong performances.

“127 Hours,” being a film, is much more easily able to show what Ralston was thinking, remembering — or even hallucinating. Oh, and it could show him graphically cutting off his arm with a pen-knife (If you’re squeamish, either look away or don’t go at all). I liked the ending of “127 Hours” better than “Floyd Collins,” but to be fair, because they were both based on true stories, there really wasn’t much creative license to choose the endings.

Basically, if you’re usually a moviegoer and can handle seeing blood, I’d recommend “127 Hours.” If you typically like theater and musical acts more, go see “Floyd Collins.“ Or if you regularly go spelunking, go see both. I know I won’t be going into any tight squeezes for a while.

--Eric Hagstrom '13

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