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Viewers faint as adventurer saws off arm in Danny Boyle's new film

Danny Boyle’s new film about an adventurer who amputates his own arm with a pen-knife is so gruesome that at least three viewers fainted at a preview screening.

The Slumdog Millionaire director once said he wanted to leave cinema audiences with a “life-affirming buzz”, but his new film caused scenes of horror and disgust when it was screened at the Toronto Film Festival.

At least three viewers passed out during a scene in the film, 127 Hours, when the protagonist is forced to hack off his own arm after becoming trapped under a boulder.

The film charts the journey of the adventurer Aron Ralston who survived in the wilds of Utah after becoming trapped in a ravine.

The film builds up to the moment when Ralston, delirius after lying for five days with his right arm under the boulder, uses a second rock to break his bones before sawing off the limb at the shoulder with the blade of his penknife, stopping only to snip through his tendons with pliers.

The new film has received a warm critical reception. A reviewer for the film industry website TheWrap.com, who witnessed the three faintings at a screening on Sunday night, wrote: "Make no mistake, the scenes of Aron Ralston taking off his own arm to free himself after a fall are among the most realistic of graphic gore ever put on film, and not for the faint of heart.

“You could clearly see people in shock, struggling to stay in their seats, working to get past the intensity of what was going on in front of them. The sequence is never gratuitous, just very realistic... These were clearly audience members who could not take it."

Ralston himself admitted finding the scene harrowing at a press conference following the Toronto screening. He said: "The experience of the very gruesome arm-removing [was], like, 'Whoa, I can't believe we're watching this!' I was ecstatic to be getting out of there. And at that point, I'm sitting there in the theatre and I'm munching my popcorn."

The adventurer, who is played by the actor James Franco, survived his 2003 ordeal despite having to climb down a 65ft wall after the amputation and hike for miles to alert the emergency services.

He documented the saga in a book, Between a Rock and a Hard Place.

© Telegraph.co.uk