In January, 2010, the makers of the film 127 HOURS approached Petzl with a request. They wanted help tracking down the exact model and color of TIKKA headlamp that Aron Ralston wore during his ordeal in the Utah desert, around which the film is based. The props department used photos Ralston took of himself while trapped, his arm pinned between a boulder and the wall of a slot canyon, to identify the three-LED TIKKA and other objects Ralston had with him at that time. (It's not a spoiler to say that Ralston eventually amputated his own arm in order to escape.)
Image of the actual TIKKA Aron Ralston wore while trapped in the Utah slot canyon.
“A new feature film depicting Aron Ralston's amazing entrapment in a narrow slot canyon in remote Southern Utah is currently a month away from production,” read the call for assistance. “If you have this Petzl TIKKA, in blue and gray, with the matching white band, we will trade it in for a brand new Petzl headlamp, and your old TIKKA may be featured in the movie.”
Petzl America Marketing Director John Evans worked with the the film's property director, Scott Arneman, and tracked down eight headlamps fitting the description. Lights came in from locales far and wide, including Spain, Iceland and France. It was truly a global effort.
James Franco as Aron Ralston in 127 HOURS wearing the same model and color TIKKA headlamp.
While touring the movie set one day, Evans expressed his surprise at the accuracy with which the film sought to portray the real-life events. “I’ve worked with a lot of Hollywood films over the years,” he said to Arneman. “But I’ve never seen such obsessive attention to detail.” Arneman’s reply? “You’ve never worked with Danny Boyle before.”
Also a part of the movie’s focus on accuracy, 127 HOURS was filmed in southern Utah and utilized members of the local climbing community. For example, boulderer and Backcountry.com employee Luke Cudney was called in as a stunt double for star James Franco, while the filmmaker and climber Mike Call logged hours as a camera operator.
Danny Boyle and James Franco in Utah for the making of the movie.
We can’t say for sure whether the Petzl TIKKA headlamp was a factor in the film’s success, but since its release in November, 127 HOURS has been greeted with overwhelmingly positive reviews. Coincidence? Check it out, but beware -- we hear it’s intense.
For more on the film 127 HOURS, check out the movie website here.