After a bit of rummaging around the internet and some helpful reader emails (who knew people were so interested in the fate of the abandoned arm?!) I believe I have the answers to the key questions from my review of 127 Hours – and some extra.
1) The real-life footage of Aron Ralston trapped in the canyon still exists. Ralston has shown it to his family, and to James Franco to help him prepare for the role, as Franco explains in an interview here, describing the experience as “very intense, very moving… he doesn’t know there’s a happy ending.” You can actually see a teensy snippet of the actual footage in this interview as well.
2) So, LOTS of you wanted to know about the arm’s whereabouts… The arm is actually no more. It was retrieved following Ralston’s escape and cremated. Ralston then returned to the boulder six months later to scatter the ashes.
3) Another question that readers have asked is how long it actually took Ralston to cut his arm off (morbid, anyone?). The answer, according to an interview with Ralston, is 40 minutes, although Boyle shows it in about five.
4) For those of you who want to know more about the real Ralston, there is a fascinating video of his return to the boulder here. If you thought the film was shocking, prepare to be revolted and moved in equal measure (the phrase “like sliding it into a pat of warm butter” will stick in my mind forever).