Home  •  About  •  Contact  •  Twitter  •  Google+  •  Facebook  •  Tumblr  •  Youtube  •  RSS Feed
Man Of Aran

Man Of Aran

By Patrick Samuel • August 13th, 2012
Static Mass Rating: 3/5
MAN OF ARAN (DOCUMENTARY)
Gaumont British Distributors

Original release: October 18th, 1934
Running time: 73 minutes

Writer and director: Robert J Flaherty

Cast: Colman King, Maggie Dirrane, Stephen Dirrane, Pat Mullin

Man Of Aran

Over the years I’ve watched and enjoyed many great documentaries and each one stirs within me a greater appreciation for this genre of filmmaking. As a result of this I’ve come to expect certain things when I watch a documentary. For example; I want to learn something I didn’t know before, I want to feel inspired to go on and find out more about the subject, I want to be entertained, engaged and moved by what I see, and most of all, I expect the depictions to be true.

Robert J. Flaherty’s Man Of Aran fulfils all but the last of these when it comes to documentary filmmaking.

In 1931, documentary filmmaker Flaherty set out to make a film about the Dirrane family and their life on the Aran Islands, off the western coast of Ireland. He would spend the next three years filming their daily routines such as fishing off the high cliffs, farming potatoes and hunting sharks for liver oil.

The beautifully shot documentary with poetic overtones film showed how fascinated he was by man’s struggle with the environment. We see stark and rugged landscapes, and a family living a primitive existence. They carry seaweed in baskets on their backs up steep cliffs to compost for soil to plant their potatoes; they patch their canvas-hulled currachs with rags and tar; they spear sharks for meat and oil. It’s a hard life and every day they battle against the elements with Flaherty there to capture it all.

However, since the Man Of Aran’s release, there’s been much criticism over the authenticity of its documentary claim. The Dirrane family never existed in real life and a lot of the scenes were staged including the famous shark hunt, making Man Of Aran more a work of ethnofiction (a blend of documentary and fiction film) than a straightforward documentary.

Does this get in the way of enjoying Man Of Aran? Not necessarily. The cinematography and editing is superb. The low-angle shots of the boy and his mother walking along the cliffs with the sky soaring above them are breathtaking, as are the ocean shots. There’s so much attention to detail despite the film being riddled with inaccuracies and misrepresentations. Though Flaherty only incorporates a musical score ever so sparsely, the music comes only at pivotal points in the film to accompany these remarkable moments.

As a work of art, it’s truly stunning, but a documentary it’s certainly not.

Patrick Samuel

Patrick Samuel

The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is an emerging artist with a philosophy degree, working primarily with pastels and graphite pencils, but he also enjoys experimenting with water colours, acrylics, glass and oil paints.

Being on the autistic spectrum with Asperger’s Syndrome, he is stimulated by bold, contrasting colours, intricate details, multiple textures, and varying shades of light and dark. Patrick's work extends to sound and video, and when not drawing or painting, he can be found working on projects he shares online with his followers.

Patrick returned to drawing and painting after a prolonged break in December 2016 as part of his daily art therapy, and is now making the transition to being a full-time artist. As a spokesperson for autism awareness, he also gives talks and presentations on the benefits of creative therapy.

Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and science fiction, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.

Patrick Samuel ¦ Asperger Artist

© 2018 STATIC MASS EMPORIUM . All Rights Reserved. Powered by METATEMPUS | creative.timeless.personal.   |   DISCLAIMER, TERMS & CONDITIONS

HOME | ABOUT | CONTACT | TWITTER | GOOGLE+ | FACEBOOK | TUMBLR | YOUTUBE | RSS FEED

CINEMA REVIEWS | BLU-RAY & DVD | THE EMPORIUM | DOCUMENTARIES | WORLD CINEMA | CULT MOVIES | INDIAN CINEMA | EARLY CINEMA

MOVIE CLASSICS | DECONSTRUCTING CINEMA | SOUNDTRACKS | INTERVIEWS | THE DIRECTOR’S CHAIR | JAPANESE CINEMA