Big-screen amputation

Last updated 13:34 08/02/2011

Rock onSo, anyway, there I was wandering off the plane into Auckland airport the other day, where (just like in the movies) a guy in a uniform was holding a sign with "Ms Agnew" written on it - spelt correctly and everything. So not my usual Saturday at work.

The guy was a concierge from a posh hotel, sent to pick me up and whisk me away (the limo was a hybrid so it was PC-ecofriendly luxury ... it even had a little  flag on the bonnet, that's how posh it was) for an interview with Aron Ralston, the man better known as "the guy who cut his own arm off".

And since Danny Boyle has made a really rather good film about him, Ralston will now become known as the guy James Franco plays in 127 Hours. Ralston told me it was probably weirder for his sister seeing Franco play him on the big screen. She has a bit of a crush on Franco, you see, and became a bit conflicted at seeing this cute guy pretending to be her brother ... poor girl.

It felt completely incongruous, having spent 94 minutes stuck down a canyon crevice with his proxy, to now sit opposite the real guy watching him sip a cold glass of mineral water. You gain a whole new appreciation for cool, clear water after seeing a guy reduced to drinking his own urine out of a Camelbak...

It's no spoiler to tell you that at some point in the film about someone whose arm gets pinned by a 400kg boulder, he's going to have to cut his arm off.

It's a pretty visceral experience, to say the least. People have fainted.

It only lasts a few minutes in the movie, but it actually took Ralston - who was already starving and dehydrated after five days with little food and water - an hour to sever his arm.

He had to use the leverage of the boulder to break the arm bones - there's no way his cheap, blunt multitool blade would have cut through bone. The really nasty stuff (for me, at least) was the detail... there's no way you can get through seeing this film without sucking air sharply through your teeth. (Fainting is optional.)

Incidentally, 127 Hours, after an appeal, has been rated RP16, meaning that people under 16 can attend if accompanied by a parent or guardian -  a rating rarely used in New Zealand. The original rating by the film censors, the Office of Film and Literature Classification, was the more restrictive R16. (20th Century Fox appealed on the grounds that 127 Hours is "a quality film, telling an inspirational true story, which also contains a powerful public service message about risk and consequences".)

So, it brings to mind the question: what's the best (or indeed, worst) amputation you've seen on the big screen?

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32 comments
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RO5CO   #1   01:54 pm Feb 08 2011

I didn't see it on the big screen, but the worst I have ever seen is in the thriller Audition where this psycho woman cuts a guys foot off with a piano wire while he's drugged. He's unable to move but can feel everything and the sound of her slicing back and forth is just horrific.

Jeff   #2   01:55 pm Feb 08 2011

Evil Dead 2. Hands down.

Niri Tacen   #3   02:00 pm Feb 08 2011

The problem with most amputations on the big screen is that they're either done off-camera (like Hilary Swank in Million Dollar Baby), in cartoon violence style (1980's action flicks), or in a super-fast-and-easy way (pretty much any Japanese/Chinese action film with a sword).

So it's kind of hard to pick a good one.

But I guess I'd have to choose Luke Skywalker's hand being removed by his Dad, simply because it's one of those very rare times we see the hero get mutilated in a non-reversible way. Also it nicely sets the scene for Luke's return from the brink of the dark side when he returns the favour in RoTJ.

K   #4   02:16 pm Feb 08 2011

Kathy Bates hobbling James Caan in Misery. Not strictly an amputation, but still makes me shudder.

johnny utah   #5   02:20 pm Feb 08 2011

i think this pretty much covers all the good ones:

http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/movie-news/13-memorable-movie-amputations/

guy   #6   02:26 pm Feb 08 2011

Hostel 2. yep you know it if you've seen it... WOOF.

Wellybex   #7   02:39 pm Feb 08 2011

Saw. That is all.

Michael   #8   02:59 pm Feb 08 2011

Requiem for a Dream and Jared Leto's infected arm spring to mind.

Spartacus   #9   03:06 pm Feb 08 2011

ANTICHRIST!!!! :))))

GP   #10   03:11 pm Feb 08 2011

The one i remember is the end of that great korean film 'Old Boy' when he cuts off his own tongue with a pair of sissors.

Also the 'casturation' in 'Hard Candy'


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