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Man of Aran Reviews

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September 12, 2008
Robert Flaherty is hailed in many circles as being a genius of documentary filmmaking and, in a sense, the O.G. of it too. He's an explorer turned filmmaker, who made some of his bold explorations into some of the most visually satisfying films of the first half of the 20th century. Man of Aran is a film he made in the middle of his life on the islands of Iran, three barren and rocky islands off the coast of Ireland. As time has passed, Flaherty films have become known more for their technical sophistication than for their truthful telling of a story. Man of Aran is more of a drama than a documentary. Flaherty depicts a life of Aran islanders that is for the most part a complete falsification. The family depicted is not related at all, but three random islanders picked for their looks. The actions depicted are not necessarily truthful, as the epic point in the piece is a two day shark hunt, when in reality the Aran islanders hadn't hunted sharks for years. Flaherty inflicts his own personal vision of what it's like to be an Aran islander through the film, without a whole lot of care for the actual life that the people lead. Shameless? Well after the coming of cinema verite, yes. But at the time this was what documentaries were about, it was an artist portraying his own vision through a fictionalized version of the truth. It certainly works as a film. Man of Aran is deeply beautiful, and cut insanely well as a documentary, but the chopping of the film allows you to see through the supposed truthful portrayal. Shot after shot is matched, and you start to be overwhelmed by the fact that you know this was shot very carefully for these cuts on action to work, and that much of this is staged. Flaherty had an eye for how to shoot this vicious, sea-surrounded island, and it comes off looking harsh, violent, and tough. The story of this nuclear family making their way through life in this harsh way because they value their "independence" is also compelling and interesting. Forgetting the impact this film had on its community, and the way it distorts the truth, Man of Aran could be called a masterpiece of documentary filmmaking, and that's certainly part of the reason we remember it today. It's a wonderful drama and a gorgeous film, even if a see-through documentary effort.
January 25, 2008
A good documentary, it of course lacks the unique strength of Nanook but it is throughoutly enjoyable. It shows the rough life of a community which, beyond the rather romantic tone of the film suffers in the sternest of environment. I'd say the main problem of the film is that one feels that this time the director does not show us everything. The story is too written. We follow what is obviously the poorest family on this desperate island while not paying any attention to the rest of the population. Besides during what appears to be reenactment, the actors have little else for themselves than their amazing faces. Still worth seeing though.
jazza923
November 20, 2005
What an amazing film, thoroughly engrossing, absolutely fascinating. What intersting people and their incredible will to survive. A truly great classic. A must see. Wonderful.
Nasholi
October 7, 2005
La obra más célebre de Robert Flaherty es sin duda su debut, [i]Nanuk, el esquimal[/i], documental pionero de 1922 que ya incluía las paradojas sobre objetividad y realidad que siguen siendo terreno tan fértil para los documentalistas. En los años 30, después de una serie de piezas sobre la industria británica, Flaherty se embarcó, nunca mejor dicho, en un proyecto sobre las rocosas islas irlandesas de Arán. El resultado fue [i]Hombres de Arán: hombres y monstruos[/i], una película poderosa... y con mucha tela que cortar. Si uno se la toma literalmente, es un documental sobre pescadores de tiburones, granjeros en terreno de piedra, tormentas imponentes, y en resumen sobre el enfrentamiento entre el hombre y la naturaleza. Flaherty elimina la presencia de la cámara, justo al contrario que Dziga Vertov, pero en realidad su proyecto es una gran ficción.

LADO BUENO: Como ficción, [i]Hombres de Arán[/i] es una obra maestra. Sencilla a la vez que épica, la película presenta las dificultades de la vida en una tierra hostil y paupérrima, para pasar a una sobrecogedora aventura en la caza del tiburón peregrino. Un puñado de hombres en una canoa se enfrentan a una mole que no es carnívora pero sí peligrosa, aunque inofensiva comparada con el mar restallante que les rodea. Con todos los subterfugios de la narrativa convencional al servicio de la glorificación de ese "hombre de Arán" que doma como puede a la feroz Naturaleza, Flaherty consigue un espectáculo conmovedor.

LADO MALO: Por eso tiene un 10. Pero es que la peli tiene truco. La familia que protagoniza la cinta no era una familia real. La pesca del tiburón peregrino llevaba décadas sin practicarse. Los hombres de Arán no vivían como el "hombre de Arán" de Flaherty. Era todo una construcción del director, al igual que los esquimales de [i]Nanuk[/i] llevaban mucho tiempo sin ponerse las ropas tradicionales que lucían en aquella película.

EN TRES (3) PALABRAS: Magistral con trampa.
robo
February 5, 2005
Good solid realist film. I have never seen the sea so violently portrayed.
datarush
January 22, 2005
This is to the people of Aran what Nanook of the North is to the Eskimos. The same filmmaker created both. It is more or less a recreation of the daily lives of the people of Aran, encapsulated in a nuclear family. There is a little fiction involved as it wasn't actually a nuclear family (they were all from Aran) and they weren't hunting the big whale sharks by then either. Even so, their lives must've been very hard, hauling kelp around in wicker baskets and scrounging for dirt to make potato gardens, all the while getting regularly sloshed around by the cold Atlantic. The real star of the B&W documentary is the incredibly strong seas that thrash the high rocky coastlines. Humans are insignificant compared to its power. If you watch a few shows like this it might seem really petty the next time you're hanging and whining about your soft life while sipping on a Frappuccino.

The DVD has some followup material on cast and crew, made in the 60's and 70's when some were still alive, and not very exciting. The most interesting thing is seeing how natives of Aran reacted to a movie about their recent ancestors. The DVD has everything and does everything you would expect for a 70 year old movie. 7/10
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