Armed and Dangerous: A Comprehensive Timeline of Everyone Who's Fainted (Or Worse) at 127 Hours

The official word from Fox Searchlight is "No" -- the epidemic of fainting, seizures and other visceral physical reactions to the amputation scene in 127 Hours is not a studio-engineered publicity stunt. Nor does the studio intend to capitalize on it, according to co-president Stephen Gilula: "I would prefer that people not pass out; it's not a plus. [...] We don't see a particular publicity value in it." Noble? Sure. Tasteful? Always. Honest? Let's check the medical history.

Sept. 4 -- Telluride Film Festival

Two separate reports had one person fainting at the film's world premiere, while the official accounting from Searchlight counted "an older gentleman [who] was light-headed at the first screening" and, at the second screening, a " young woman (maybe 19 or 20) who had a panic attack. Paramedics attended to both people." Anne Thompson's fest correspondent Meredith Brody said she was reminded "of the old days when people were vomiting in the lobby during The Exorcist."

Sept. 13 -- Toronto Film Festival

"The first public screening of Danny Boyle's 127 Hours had three faintings and one seizure," wrote Wrap contributor John Foote. According to a fest volunteer, the audience at the Sept. 14 screening "was made of sterner stuff than those from yesterday" -- this despite Foote noting, "I cannot remember a reaction to a film like this in a very long time, perhaps not since The Exorcist sent audiences scurrying for the doors (though much of that was later said to be a publicity stunt)." You don't say.

Oct. 15 -- Private screening, Pixar Theater

Nikki Finke reported that two people passed out during a screening hosted by Toy Story 3 director Lee Unkrich. Both were "declared fine" by paramedics. One of Finke's commenters put the fainting tally at four -- "and these are people who work on movies!"

Oct. 16 -- Mill Valley Film Festival

According to a report last weekend by John Horn in the LAT, one viewer fainted during 127 Hours' MVFF premiere. (No individual reports from the scene corroborate this.) "Such fainting spells aren't unprecedented in Hollywood, though they've been much more commonly caused by horror movies like The Exorcist and Alien," Horn added.

Oct. 19 -- Special screening, Museum of Modern Art

Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter hosted director Danny Boyle, actor James Franco and climber Aron Ralston for a Q&A, prior to which one viewer reportedly fainted.

Oct. 23 -- Private Producers Guild screening, Hollywood

Also cited by Horn, who spoke with a woman who was treated by paramedics who'd originally been called to tend to a viewer's seizure. "I have never had, even remotely, an experience like this," the woman told Horn. "I'm a television producer. I know this stuff is not real." Another flummoxed Hollywood pro! Just like the people at Pixar! Sounds like someone's bulking up for Academy consideration. Meanwhile, a Page Six commenter put the total tally of affected viewers at the screening as high as three.

Unknown date -- Research screening, Huntington Beach

One fainting, according to Horn, although "the studio and test screening company Screen Engine said that the [...] casualty returned to the theater to give the movie a grade of 'excellent'"

Oct. 28 -- London Film Festival

A report in The Sun claimed that "[h]orrified film fans threw up and fainted at the premiere of Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle's shocking new movie," which closed the London Film Festival last week. The bad news: As you might expect from The Sun, the specific number and nature of the cases was not determined. There is this, though: "Boyle looked on as paramedics treated fans struggling to cope with gruesome scenes." And the person sitting near Daily Mail reviewer Chris Tookey "left just after the most gruesome bit and never came back," apparently rebuking "the most harrowing bone-breaking and amputation scene in the history of cinema."

Nov. 3 -- Los Angeles premiere

A female filmgoer suffered a seizure relatively early during the film -- well before Franco's character amputates his arm with a dull penknife. Paramedics arrived and, in fact, the movie continued screening through the event. Per the LAT's Steven Zeitchik:

At the screening's conclusion, director Danny Boyle rose and said the incident was the result of a diabetic condition, and that it was the first time the woman, who appeared to be in her 20s, had had such an episode since she was 5 years old. Boyle assured the audience that she had been taken to Cedars-Sinai medical center and was doing well, adding that "she said it had nothing to do with the movie." A Fox Searchlight executive later echoed that account.

There you have it.

FINAL TALLY

Faintings: 13-16 (possibly more in London)

Light-headedness: 2

Seizures: 3

Panic attacks: 1

Vomiting: Unknown

Exorcist mentions: 3

Professionals affected: Hundreds



Comments

  • Martini Shark says:

    Then there's this curious CraigsList post from a few weeks back:
    PR firm is looking for individual(s) to work as a "functional extra" for appearances at upcoming screenings of a soon-to-be-released boutique studio motion picture. Individual should be proficient at immobility, ability to remain "in character" while being tended to, and skilled at down-playing the severity of their previously arranged condition. Credits as a cadaver on "Law & Order", or "N.C.I.S." a plus.

  • Brandon Abell says:

    Two words: 3D Imax.

  • Neal says:

    Amputation with a pen knife and I have to pay to watch this?
    Is this really entertainment???
    Movies are too well done these days, and just because it's a "movie" doesn't make people believe that what they are watching ISN'T real. If the scene is done right and your in the moment, the mind still goes to that place where what you are viewing is in fact reality in most cases. So fainting, sickness and (panic attacks) are to be expected. But here we are, a society that gets off on watching "extremes" to no end, but we have to keep pushing that envelope to make cash and history!!! For me, I say no thanks. Society is tarnished by real people with altered realities enough, and watching a movie like this would push me one step closer to that. You can call me a pussy but I call it safeguarding myself and others.

  • EEM says:

    I think this is different because it isn't an over-the-top horror or torture porn movie that people can laugh at and distance themselves from. Everybody in that audience knew that this had actually happened, and it was filmed in a realistic style.
    And Neal, the reason people want to see it is that it's the story of a very strong man who survived an ordeal. He even hiked most of the way out after amputating his own arm! It's kind of like the buried alive movie with Ryan Reynolds, only this really happened. I think people are curious as to what was behind the stories they read and saw on the news, and they may find it inspiring. This man's will to live was very strong.

  • metasonix says:

    >Two words: 3D Imax.
    That's three words. :P

  • reelsav says:

    I was at the showing at the Savannah Film Festival this past Saturday and a guy passed out there too. Carted out in a wheelchair.

  • DanS says:

    I attended to PGA screening on Oct. 23. During the climax there were murmurs from the back, then all out panic. At one point there were shouts, "Is there a doctor in the house?", then, "Alright, lights up! Lights up!" Fortunately the lights did not go up, and no one needed medical attention beyond a splash of water to the face.
    Our host giggled that there were "two or three" fainting spells.

  • Chelsea says:

    I remember watching documentary on this man's story many years ago and it was so amazing and powerful that I remember it clearly to this day. While this movie may seem grotesque and over the top for some, it was something an actual person had to endure.

  • Annette says:

    Wow, well this makes this entire article a lot less interesting.
    "Then there's this curious CraigsList post from a few weeks back:
    PR firm is looking for individual(s) to work as a "functional extra" for appearances at upcoming screenings of a soon-to-be-released boutique studio motion picture. Individual should be proficient at immobility, ability to remain "in character" while being tended to, and skilled at down-playing the severity of their previously arranged condition. Credits as a cadaver on "Law & Order", or "N.C.I.S." a plus."

  • engaged couple says:

    Oh it's real and we have another to add to the tally.
    I am the hospital now with my husband to be as I type this - waiting
    For them to determine If he had a seizure or just passed out and came close to having
    A seizure from staying seated vs getting his
    Legs elevated. Either way- he is completely
    Comfortable with blood and gory movies normally.
    In the amputation scene I looked over after his
    Hand slipped out of mine and found his eyes wide eyed and blankly staring at the screen. The next thing I new his eyes rolled around and back in his head and his heAf rolled
    To the side with his eyes still wide open. Anyway, we are still at the hospital now. So yes it's really happening.

  • M. Bassett says:

    It's for real - I was at a showing last night and two people passed out and needed medical attention. The theater manager shut down the showing after the second incident, which to me doesn't sound like a publicity stunt (the audience was not happy). The folks who were affected were with separate groups and I find it very hard to believe that they, their families, and the paramedics were all in on some kind of hoax.

  • John P says:

    I saw this in Dallas on Nov. 20. Midway through the film the woman in the aisle behind me had a grand mal seizure, was carried down to the front, the film was stopped and eventually she was taken away by paramedics. The theater manager said that there had already been 5 incidents during showings of the film and that there should be a warning. After they resumed the film, a man in the front row had a panic attack and his friends left with him. What a weird night at the movies.

  • nurse lady says:

    This is all ridiculous. I find it hard to believe that people can sit through the torture scenes seen in SAW movies, yet they can't handle a 3 minute scene of a self-inflicted, not-meant-just-for-torture, live-or-die amputation? I understand it feels like you're paying way too much money to see a movie, so you want to get the most out of it by immersing yourself in the story and actually believing it all, but I think it's important for audiences to remember that they themselves haven't been in a sweltering desert for 127 hours along WITH franco, to take a few seconds to take some slow deep breaths, drink some water and enjoy the movie. The fact that people are getting all worked up over that one scene tells me they aren't getting what they should be from the movie... it's about the ordeal and courage and the end result that this man went through - the audience instead is sitting there, waiting and anticipating that one moment instead of appreciating the movie as a whole.
    as for the people passing out, grow a set of balls. You KNEW what this movie was going to show. If you can't handle that kind of visual, you shouldn't be there in the first place. And if you're not sure, go rent a few SAW movies and see what happens. Fail proof.

  • Erica says:

    Add another one to that list.
    King of Prussia, PA a man had a seizure during the part where the arm is cut off yesterday Nov. 25th. Great movie, however I did not get to see the ending due to the man having a seizure. Intense moment in the movie concluded to an intense moment in real life.

  • Anonymous says:

    I saw the movie on November 24 when it opened in San Jose, CA. My husband has vasovagal syncope and passed out during the scene. I initially thought it was a seizure, but realized that he had a similar reaction in the past when giving blood. We had both read the book and knew the story and this still happened. I am apologetic and extremely thankful to those individuals that were in the theater at that time. I still think it's a great movie, although didn't get the chance to finish it, but people with vasovagal should simply be aware.

  • Andrea says:

    I was just at the showing in San Diego and one guy passed out. After he recovered he actually decided to watch the end of the movie.

  • Simon Dunn says:

    Nottingham, UK, Broadway Cinema. Someone just passed out and ambulance called. Most annoying as they paused the damn film ;) Tip for anyone squeemish... close your eyes!

  • Doofus says:

    My wife and I went go see this on Friday, 07 Jan in at the Odeon in Lincoln, UK. A moment after the climactic scene one of the audience members went into a fit. The film was stopped and the paramedics came and escorted the person out along with his girlfriend. Several other audience members were nurses and medical students. They helped out as well. Talking to them afterwards, he apparently had no history of seizures prior to the film. They resumed the film after the gentleman left, but it completely disrupted the flow of the film. Otherwise, it was a great film. Camerawork was superb.

  • Kevin Archibald says:

    The headline you were looking for is : Armless but not Harmless: A Comprehensive Timeline...etc

  • Boomer says:

    Anybody else think this is a marketing ploy? It wasn't that gory, plus SAW and Texas Chainsaw Massacre were much worse and nobody passed out or had seizures

  • Sunderpea says:

    I fainted too. I saw it in Singapore on Feb. 20/11 and during the scene of the arm amputation I started feeling sick. I have fainted before and I can usually counteract it, but I really wanted to see it and I watched more than I should have. I woke up on the stairs of the theatre with my husband holding me, he was shaking because I had stopped breathing for a moment and he had to give me air. I heard the man that was sitting next to us asking if he should call an ambulance. I didn't go to the hospital because I have fainted several times before, but we left without seeing the rest of the movie. Guess I will have to rent it, maybe just to watch the ending.

  • Johnny says:

    The tally keeps rolling I saw the movie last Sunday as it was up for Oscars, I left the theatre and passed out in the lobby. It is real.

  • Johnny says:

    Oh and yes I am a horror movie fan, I have seen Saw and Texas Chainsaw massacre, I work in the medical profession, but when the story is based on actual events and the depiction is authentic it can get to you. It is unfair for others to suggest that these people are wimps, they did not expect to have such strong reactions to the scene.

  • Cath says:

    My husband just fainted after watching this movie on a flight from Sydney to Hong Kong. It was scary but the Qantas flight crew were fantastic

  • Lee says:

    OK. Even if I give EVERYONE here that they had a minor physical reaction to this film, what kind of physical reaction do you think this young man had in AMPUTATING HIS OWN ARM, RAPPELLING down a 65 foot wall ONE-HANDED, hiking approx. 8 MILES in the desert sun (losing roughly 25% of his blood volume during the entire ordeal) before encountering a family. Let's all put on our big-girl panties and be thankful we weren't him that day. Judging from a lot of the comments, not a lot of us would made it out alive (probably myself included).

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