Duration-Free Waiting or 127 hours in 90 minutes

November 15, 2010

Duration is a hallmark of experimental media practices. While always boring, to some extent, great duration works depend upon a profound mirroring of technique and ontology to allow us to ruminate on definitive questions of both cinema and existence: desire and boredom, what lasts and what we will wait for.

Don’t get me wrong, I really liked Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours, this post merely considers how he quite masterfully turned an avant-garde concern with duration into a post-modern festival of acceleration. With an impressive array of artful cinematic tricks, varied and purposeful, from the craft departments of screenwriting, color, lighting, sound design, music, camera movement, close-up, performance, and mise-en-scene, Boyle keeps his film a-movin’ with nary a second left over to experience what duration usually delivers: that the viewer is induced to hallucinations, reveries on the nature of love, sex, family, and time, and the desire to slit one’s own wrist (or arm) from an unaccountably vehement anger at that which moves too slow in a form that usually delivers.

True to our ADD culture, Boyle lets us longingly look at someone else’s duration troubles as a new form of heightened narrative voyeuristic pleasure rather than trusting us to be strong enough, patient enough, smart enough, or man enough to handle waiting on our own.

5 Responses to “Duration-Free Waiting or 127 hours in 90 minutes”


  1. [...] an earlier post I consider how Boyle’s strenuous and splendid effort becomes a postmodern ode to duration via [...]


  2. [...] an earlier post I consider how Boyle's strenuous and splendid effort becomes a postmodern ode to duration via [...]


  3. [...] an earlier post I consider how Boyle's strenuous and splendid effort becomes a postmodern ode to duration via [...]


  4. [...] as was true of my experience of 127 hours, this contemporary time-project also delivered, instead, a meditation on time compression, cutting [...]


  5. [...] without any of the didactic lessons in slowness (which is probably why it won the Oscar), and 127 Hours did by speeding things up, and Singin’ in the Rain did just fine [...]


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