Man of Aran
Man of Aran is a 1934 British fictional documentary (ethnofiction) film directed by Robert J. Flaherty about life on the Aran Islands off the western coast of Ireland. It portrays characters living in premodern conditions, documenting their daily routines such as fishing off high cliffs, farming potatoes where there is little soil, and hunting for huge basking sharks to get liver oil for lamps. Some situations are fabricated, such as one scene in which the shark fishermen are almost lost at sea in a sudden gale. Additionally, the family members shown are not actually related, having been chosen from among the islanders for their photogenic qualities.George Stoney's 1978 documentary How the Myth was Made, which is included in the special features of the DVD, relates that the Aran Islanders had not hunted sharks in this way for over fifty years at the time the film was made. Man of Aran is Flaherty's re-creation of culture on the edges of modern society, even though much of the primitive life depicted had been left behind by the 1930s. It is impressive, however, for its drama, for its spectacular cinematography of landscape and seascape, and for its concise editing.