I make no apologies for this post, as I was trying to look for one with the same information in it for about a week.....there are obviously spoilers.
If you think you'd like to see 127 Hours because you want to see if James Franco deserves an Oscar for Best Actor or if the movie should be Best Picture BUT you're squeamish and don't know if you'll manage watching it - here's a timeline I made so you'll know when to pop to the toilet/restroom or to simply put your fingers in your ears and look away.
If you don't want to know, stop reading now.
Right, have they gone?
OK then - you'll need to set your watches (or just do some maths) from the start of the movie, not when the cinema says the movie starts because that's actually when the trailers start.
First of all you have Aron packing his bags, driving then cycling to the wilderness and meeting two girls also backpacking out there.
Danny Boyle does mess with your mind quite a bit throughout the movie with premonitions (if that's the right word for them) of what's to come...so in the first 17 minutes Aron falls off his bike and very slightly hurts his arm, then later with the girls he and then they deliberately fall through a very narrow gorge into water at the bottom of it you didn't previously know was there.
He then leaves their company and the fall that we all know is coming happens 17 minutes into the film. This is fine to watch even though he gets half of his lower arm and hand crushed - there's the slightest bit of blood on the wall of the gorge and not a lot of screaming.
He tries various ways to get the rock to move and thinks about those who would be concerned about him who he was too selfish to tell where he was going etc.
Danny Boyle messes with our heads again obscuring the action from us as Aron scrapes away at the rock by his trapped thumb with a blunt penknife.
At 47 minutes in Aron first thinks of making a tourniquet (and does so) binding the flexible drinking pipe around his arm just below the elbow and using a carabiner to twist the piping tighter and tighter. He makes some very unsuccesful attempts to cut the skin but doesn't even pierce it.
At 62 minutes he uses the same knife but stabs it into the arm and you see an internal shot of how far it gets. You see a little blood on the skin and he puts a finger in the blood (not into his arm, which comes later) and licks the blood - he has become dangerously low on water at this point and is severely dehydrated.
But you can carry on watching for a bit... it's not gory for the moment.
At 64 minutes though he does drink his own urine (having run out of water) and retches a bit... this really didn't bother me, but just letting you know in case it does you.
Severely dehyrated and hallucinating by this point he watches the video he made a few days earlier of the girls and him in the bottom of the ravine.
At 69 minutes he makes his final video to his parents, family and friends. He has premonitions of them being there with him, sitting on a sofa and of a young boy and sees himself with the young boy on his shoulders. Also be aware that the soundtrack is severely racking up the tension at this point - in particular you hear Aron's heartbeat very loud and seemingly getting louder, so I can understand why this and the anticipation of seeing something really gruesome caused people to faint etc.
By this point 29% of the audience I was watching the movie with had walked out (ok there were only 7 of us to start with, it was a Thursday morning).
It was from this point that I chose to look away, knowing from listening to Kermode and Mayo's podcast (review and interview with Danny Boyle is 7th Jan) and reading lots of reviews to prepare myself what was coming...
At 75 minutes (so an hour and 15 minutes) you hear him breaking the first bone in his arm. It's a very loud crack and the music is also building the tension. He screams but in a sort of yes, I did it way....if that makes sense - what I mean is I didn't find the sounds of what was happening on the screen too much for me.
After what seems a long gap, but actually is only about a minute - at 76 minutes he breaks the second bone.
The music is very loud and aggressive now and between 77 and 79 minutes are the really difficult to watch bits (I understand reading all the reports of people fainting and having fits) from watch I understand, he sticks his finger or fingers into the wound to open it up more, and there's the bit you hear lots of people talking about being graphic in the sound effects - him cutting the nerve - which you hear several times a noise that's a very loud mix of something like dragging metal up and down a metal piano string and not totally unlike Godzilla's roar. I've got a feeling I've heard somewhere that he pulls out the the nerve too and that there's lots of blood.
BUT this most gruesome bit only lasts about 2 minutes and to be honest, if you tell yourself - 'it's only acting' (forget that the real Aron actually did this is you are squeamish but want to be there) it will be ok.
I looked back up to see a quite bloody but no gushing blood James Franco standing a few feet back from the rock and his severed arm.
And from here on the movie is watchable again. You see him climb out of the ravine, finds some muddy water at the bottom of another (remember he's totally dehydrated and needs water to survive) and starts walking out towards civilisation. He sees some hikers and they get him help and then you see James Franco as Aron living life to the full, swimming, snow climbing....all with the message that he now leaves a note to say where he's going. You also get to see the real Aron, his wife and new son.
And you get to leave the cinema on a high....possibly if you are mega squeamish and worried about being able to cope, having gotten through it....though hopefully also seeing what Aron Roiston is like now.
The film lasts just 93 minutes.
I hope if you want to watch the film but were too worried to before the above might help you. I wish I'd been able to relax and know that I could cope by looking away for 5-7 minutes (or if you're braver than me 2-3) near the end of the movie so I could have enjoyed James Franco's acting more and marvelled at the spectacular scenery.
Unfortunately the worry about whether I'd made the right decision by being there at all made me nervous throughout the film and I didn't enjoy it as much as I could have done if relaxed and confident. Especially as I'd heard repeated times about how graphic the soundtrack was going to be - it was fine.
I'll be doing a proper review of the movie and what I think in respect of its various Oscar nominations sometime next week (I've still got to tell you about The Social Network, The Town and other real-life things that have been happening to us that aren't on the silver screen).
"127 Hours - Could You Watch A Man Amputate His Arm" (some helpful hints to cope)