Film and TV

127 Hours fainting attack: Man passes out during Starz Denver Film Festival

Reports have been coming in from all over the country of people passing out or suffering panic attacks during the infamous arm-amputation scene in the new Danny Boyle and James Franco vehicle 127 Hours, a film based on the true travails of local boy Aron Ralston. Now there's a new incident to add: A man passed out -- with his eyes open -- during the Denver Film Festival screening last Friday night.

Turns out that Ralston, who introduced the film at Starz FilmCenter, wasn't joking when he suggested people stay in their seats during the amputation scene and not collapse in the aisle. Apparently one audience member did just that, according to an account he gave to the website Although the creepy zombie-like trance the man apparently went into makes us wonder if something else was going on beyond just gore-induced disquiet. Is this all viral marketing for another sequel to Boyle's undead flick, 28 Days Later?

Here's the viewer's full tale of fainting:

"I was at the Denver Film Festival screening of 127 Hours this past weekend (Nov 5th) with my wife and a couple of her friends. Coming into the movie, my main concern was not being grossed out by the arm scene. My main concern was not crying in front of my wife's friends during the emotional parts. To be honest, I wish I would have cried. Instead, I passed out after the arm scene. It was very embarrassing. I passed out sitting up with my eyes open. My wife tried to talk to me and noticed I was unresponsive, even though my eyes were wide open. She of course freaked. Somebody called 911. There was a doctor a few rows back that came down to assist. I came to in her arms, drenched in sweat and lying across the seats. The paramedics came into the theater. They checked me out in the lobby then wanted me to go to the ambulance to monitor my heart. I had to walk through the crowds of people with the paramedics. Luckily they did not make me get on the gurney. I went outside and there was a fire truck and ambulance.

"To be honest, I had a long tough day at work and had not eaten or hydrated myself properly. I feel like that, in combination with the arm scene is what caused me to pass out. If I think about the scene even now, my stomach turns and I get the cold sweats. I have watched many gory movies in the past without incident, but for some reason this one got me. Maybe because it was something that was real and that somebody actually had to do to themselves. When watching movies I always put myself in the character's shoes, which is why I get nervous and bite my nails in suspense movies, or why I always jump (and sometimes scream) during horror movies, and most of all, why I cry during emotional scenes. Can't help it, my wife is embarrassed by my movie crying, or was until I passed out. She too probably wishes I cried instead.

"I can laugh at it now, but at the time it was embarrassing and pretty terrifying for my wife and her friends. The big wigs from the Denver Film Fest and Denver Film Society did come and speak to me and my wife to make sure we were OK. They were all very nice and even called the next day to check up on me. I know the studio is trying to distance themselves from these types of incidents because they do not want the movie to be about just that scene. I do not want to shed any bad light on the Starz Denver Film Fest.

"The movie is very good and should not be seen just because of the arm scene. Regardless, the arm scene put me over the top. If you have not done so already, you should recommend that anybody going to see this movie be prepared and look away if you start feeling ill. By doing this, it will allow people to avoid any of embarrassment that I and many others have suffered. Not sure if I had a full stomach if I also would have vomited and passed out. I have passed out before because of not eating right and dehydration, but only after athletic activity. I have never passed out from just seeing something either live or on film."

More from our Television & Film archive: "Starz Denver Film Festival: James Franco, Aron Ralston make 127 Hours go by just like that."

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Joel Warner is a former staff writer for Westword and International Business Times. He's also written for WIRED, Men's Journal, Men's Health, Bloomberg Businessweek, Popular Science, Slate, Grantland and many other publications. He's co-author of the 2014 book The Humor Code: A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny, published by Simon & Schuster.
Contact: Joel Warner