Man of Aran - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Man of Aran Reviews

Page 1 of 2
½ August 14, 2017
Gloriously photographed semi-documentary (some sequences seem staged), detailing the hardy lives of the islanders of Aran, off the Galway coast of West Ireland. They fish, repair their skiffs, grow potatoes using seaweed as soil, and battle the terrifying tide to catch basking shark, the oil from whose livers will light their lamps. Impressive and poignant.
April 24, 2015
From the man who founded the documentary genre. Man of Aran is a remarkable film. You need to have an imagination to appreciate it, though. I'm not sure if there's a more restored version, but what I saw was pretty grainy. It doesn't matter because the movie is definitely clear enough that you can imagine what it would be like if you were really there. This isn't a Hollywood production, this is real. The movie is staged, but the event itself happens everyday on Aran Island.

I love watching these old survival movies. That's what I call them. A movie like this made after the introduction of color movies would probably look modern in some way. You would see signs that the culture you're watching is in even just a small way touched by outside influence. You'd see things that look familiar and then it stops feeling like a trip back in time. The footage is very raw. The boats, tools, weapons, clothes, it's all old and genuine. These movies are liberating, like casting off the shackles of society and returning to a simpler time when life was all about the struggle between nature and man.
½ February 22, 2013
Duller than life itself
½ September 12, 2011
I wonder if living close to the sea means that I am unable to see the beauty that everyone else sees in this film? Nanook of the North conveyed a sense of the power and majesty of nature and of hard, hard lives in a way that Man of Aran failed to do.
August 24, 2011
Simplistic, naive even, and insistently exterior, focused on the farmer's relationship to the landscape, and the tasks he performed upon it, rather than any thoughts he might have had doing them. (His speech, too, would be dubbed on in post.) In short, Flaherty reduced the real-life inhabitants of Aran to mere archetypes - forerunners of the kind of composite characters that would later become such an annoyance in Hollywood's true-life tales, headed up by a figure who isn't even granted so much as a name. Against this, the crafty, supremely skilful montage - surely indebted to the Soviet masters, and Dovzhenko in particular - would nevertheless succeed in getting up on screen a sense of the rhythms of this hardscrabble existence: the smashing of rocks, the pursuit of fishes big and little, the breaking of the waves into a relentless, deadly-looking froth. Whatever faults of technique one might be inclined to attribute to Flaherty, such tumults remain stunningly photographed, underpinned by the sense of discovery and adventure that marked the first half of the 21st century. This camera is as keen to bob up and down on the high seas as it is to explore the insides of a bubbling cauldrom or a shark's carcass. Shame it never wants to do the same with its human subjects, but the whole has a forced poetry that proves quaintly diverting - and it's never looked or sounded better than in this 2011 restoration.
½ May 12, 2011
Flaherty's technique of creating the documentary as a drama presages many, including Herzog's use of made-up material to amplify the truth of a moment. The images of the sea pounding the sides of the island that bookend the film are extremely effective.
April 15, 2011
Robert Flaherty's film of life in an Irish fishing community owes less to the real lives of the villagers than Flaherty's own sense of drama and storytelling. It's about as real as The Office but is an engrossing series of set-pieces where Flaherty films in a never ending sea of tension by putting the protagonists in various dangerous situations set against the tempestuous wind and sea that is the master of these people's lives. A seeming influence to Herzog all those years later, this really is a sort of cinematic shock from a director as visionary as Welles and stubborn as Von Sternberg. A must see.
February 8, 2011
More drama than documentary, but since there are no real visual effects the imagery is a wonder to behold.
July 10, 2010
omöjlig att betygsätta, men intressant filmhistorisk händelse. synd att de pratar engelska och inte irländska, men det kompenseras till viss del att att engelskan bitvis är rätt så obegriplig...

flygplanen från 30-talet var misstänkt lika planet jag själv åkte dit i 2007.
½ May 1, 2010
Absolutely beautiful. Amazingly paced, with some stunning camera work and great expressionistic performances, with great, heart-wrenching, action and lots and lots of sea.

NOTE: I saw this in a cinema with a soundtrack played live by British Sea Power, and it was one of the best cinema experiences of my life, thus I doubt the film on DVD, without the life band soundtracking it, would replicate this and so can be discounted by any readers looking for an assessment solely of the film.
½ February 19, 2010
Hardly a documentary, seeing as its almost entirely staged with not even the family a real unit, but still powerful.
October 1, 2009
Another semi-documentary ethnographic study from Robert Flaherty. This one examines the lives of people barely scratching out an existence on tiny, barren islands off the coast of Ireland. When you see them scrounging through craggy crevices for a basketful of soil, you just want to yell at the screen "MOVE SOMEWHERE ELSE", but one still admires their resourcefulness and determination. The film basically focuses on three episodes: bringing in the fishing net, catching a shark, and a rough struggle against the elements ("the sea was angry that day, my friends... like an old man trying to send back soup in a deli"). If you've got a thing against watching guys in boats, you should probably skip this movie. Flaherty overestimates how long these events can be interesting. The shark part in particular seems to go on forever. But the photography and editing is first-rate, and it mostly manages to be engaging. Flaherty's work isn't really my bag but I usually get something out of them.
June 14, 2009
esp. with the bsp soundtrack
December 3, 2008
A very interesting film, it's not quite a documentary, but also not quite a normal narrative film. It reminded me of Herzog's films in many ways, especially Aguirre, where much of the events were staged, but they were also real in a strange way. A very interesting film!
September 15, 2008
Similar to Nanook, what could be interesting material is stretched out to simply boring lengths.
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.
Super Reviewer
July 3, 2008
want to see this because it won best foreign film with the NBR
June 14, 2008
Awesome camera shots, considering it was made in 1934.
Page 1 of 2