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  1. #1
    Super Moderator Country: Scotland
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    Park Circus release Man of Aran on 14th March but only on DVD. The company have released many of their titles on dual format.

    Park Circus


    Man Of Aran

    Year:1934Running Time:77 MinutesCertificate:U
    Directed By:Robert FlahertyStarring:Colman 'Tiger' King, Maggie Dirrane, Michael Dirrane
    Special Features:The feature has undergone a new full digital restoration and the release contains a host of extra features including the documentary �How The Myth Was Made�, Short Film �Return Of the Islander� (25 minutes), Short Films by Robert J. Flaherty: �The English Potter� and �Industrial Britain�, Outtake footage found at the Irish Film Archive and an image gallery.Catalogue Number:PC0023Price:�17.99
    The influential American documentary pioneer, Robert Flaherty, spent three years making this celebrated film. Life on the island of Aran in the 1930's was hard. Families were forced to fight against the elements for their livelihoods. It was the custom of the men to await the annual migration of basking sharks. If caught, they would provide a family with enough oil for a year, but to catch them meant setting sail in a flimsy boat. Could it protect the fishermen against the pounding force of the ocean?

  2. #2
    Senior Member dpgmel's Avatar
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    Now that is very good news indeed

  3. #3
    Senior Member Country: UK Onedin's Avatar
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    Sounds like an incredibly fascinating film.

    Must be the islander's daughter in me.

  4. #4
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    I remember when Channel 4 showed this as an afternoon movie...Those were the days!

  5. #5
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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      Spoiler:
    The islanders hunt a basking shark for its oil, but they hadn't done so in generations. The filmmakers had to bring an Inuit hunter to show them how to do it as their ancestors might have.


    Steve

  6. #6
    Senior Member Country: Ireland Edward G's Avatar
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    Steve,
    Whilst the shark hunting was set up for the movie, it was, as you say, an authentic feature of the island's past, Flaherty no doubt revisiting the era to add some drama to the story. The assembling of the 3 different islanders into the "family unit" of Father, Mother and Son, used as centrepiece of the story, was likewise evidence of Flaherty's artistic licence but the portrayal of island life, scratching potato fields out of an almost barren landscape, fishing out of wild seas and using seaweed as fertiliser was real, as was the portrayal of the harsh yet stark beauty of the island. My father was a an islander from the West of Ireland and a shark hunter in the 1950's and he confirmed that the film got it right. He knew how to hunt sharks in the 1950's, so I am surprised that you say the film makers brought in an Inuit fisherman 20 years previosuly to "teach" this to the locals! Where did you get this information from? I don't recall it being mentiond in George Stoner's "How The Myth Was Made" (a documentary about the earlier "documentary"!) There is no doubt the film portrayed a harshness of existence that was well out of date when the film was actually made. This fact split the islanders ; some admired the authenticty and nobility of the recreation while others claimed it presented a poor and outdated idea of their impoverished lives....

    The reviews below are from Amazon.


    "Unfortunately for Flaherty, the daily life struggle of the Aran inhabitants was not raw enough, so he brought their lives about 90 years into the past, into the realm of harpoon shark fishing and suicidal egg hunting near towering cliffs. In order to resurrect this past, he located islanders who remembered the old ways, and knew the skills necessary to achieve his vision. In this way, Flaherty is authentic, using the elder residents to bring their childhood to life again. But it was not modern Aran".
    Zack Davisson


    "While it stretches the definition of documentary, Robert Flaherty's Man of Aran remains a triumph of poetic imagery, and one of the greatest nonfiction films ever made. Critic
    Pauline Kael hailed it as "the greatest film tribute to man's struggle against hostile nature," referring to conditions faced by bold residents of the Aran Islands, 30 miles offshore from Galway, Ireland, amidst the harshest seas of the Atlantic. Flaherty and his tiny crew spent over two years on the islands, chronicling the rugged lives of the Araners on a landscape so rocky that seaweed is used as improvised soil. Flaherty cast the film with assorted locals and recreated anachronistic events (such as the harpooning of a basking shark) from Aran's past, inviting controversy over the film's authenticity. That debate continues on this DVD's exceptional bonus features (for retrospective insight, "How the Myth Was Made" is every bit as good as Flaherty's film), but Man of Aran is, and always will be, a timeless record of extraordinary people, miraculously surviving in a most extraordinary place".

    Jeff Shannon

    "Black and white docudrama of what it was like to scrape a living off the barren coastal islands of Ireland. Story is scarce, sound is almost indecipherable, but if you watch the actors, (locals hired for the film,) they wade waist deep into the icy Atlantic breakers without even flinching, it's an every day thing for them to risk their lives to gather a torn net or pull a boat through the huge waves, just to glean enough to keep their stomach full. I was on Aran, recognized some of the settings, life is tremendously better, now, but you see why they still consider someone not of the island families an outsider, no matter how long they've lived there".
    J. Simmons

  7. #7
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Edward G View Post
    Steve,
    Whilst the shark hunting was set up for the movie, it was, as you say, an authentic feature of the island's past, Flaherty no doubt revisiting the era to add some drama to the story. The assembling of the 3 different islanders into the "family unit" of Father, Mother and Son, used as centrepiece of the story, was likewise evidence of Flaherty's artistic licence but the portrayal of island life, scratching potato fields out of an almost barren landscape, fishing out of wild seas and using seaweed as fertiliser was real, as was the portrayal of the harsh yet stark beauty of the island. My father was a an islander from the West of Ireland and a shark hunter in the 1950's and he confirmed that the film got it right. He knew how to hunt sharks in the 1950's, so I am surprised that you say the film makers brought in an Inuit fisherman 20 years previosuly to "teach" this to the locals! Where did you get this information from? I don't recall it being mentiond in George Stoner's "How The Myth Was Made" (a documentary about the earlier "documentary"!) There is no doubt the film portrayed a harshness of existence that was well out of date when the film was actually made. This fact split the islanders ; some admired the authenticty and nobility of the recreation while others claimed it presented a poor and outdated idea of their impoverished lives....
    But as the whole point of the documentary was to show how the islanders lived, isn't it a shame that Flaherty faked how they lived? If it had been presented as a historical document showing how they lived a few generations ago, that would have been more authentic.

    I got the story about the Inuit from the IMDb trivia page for the documentary in this case, but it's a story I've heard before. None of the islanders remembered the old ways of hunting that Flaherty wanted to show. The way they lived at the time wasn't "quaint" or interesting enough for him.

    it's a common complaint against documentary makers, then and now. That they set things up to make their documentary more interesting which bear no relation to what the people portrayed would do in normal circumstances

    Steve

  8. #8
    Senior Member Country: UK CaptainWaggett's Avatar
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    The Man of Aran himself, Peter Mullen, was a local though he'd spent many years in America. He abandoned ten children to return to Aran. One of them grew up to be Barbara 'More tea, Doctor Finley' Mullen, who despite being of Irish parentage and American upbringing, managed to reinvent herself as Scottish

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