Filmmaker Robert Flaherty’s works have long been controversial, mostly due to the fact that they were often unfairly considered documentaries, when they were nothing of the sort. On the other hand, critics attacked him for having a lack of social conscience, and “that” seems unjust when considering most of his work deals with the strength of the human spirit and of the exploration of the human condition, subjects that are at the “Crux” of any socially conscious film.
Flaherty shot “MAN OF ARAN” on and around the Aran Islands. These islands are off the coast of Ireland, and the torrential weather as well as the rigors associated with living on these islands makes for an interesting, if manipulative, study.
While it’s hard to discern how realistic various conditions existing in the film were, seeing the fishermen struggle and living, at times, in conditions similar to Native Indians, is often compelling drama.
It’s also hard to ignore how staged the entire film is. The relations between the father, mother and son, don’t have the sense of realism, Flaherty obviously had hoped for. Still, “MAN OF ARAN” is as much about the location as it is anything, and there are so many startling images, that they and the film deserve to be seen.
HOME VISION has preserved the original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. There are plenty of signs of its age, including scratches, dirt and more, but, the contrast is surprisingly sharp. It’s certainly the best transfer we’ve seen of the film ever!
HOME VISION has presented a Dolby Digital monaural mix for this release. The dialogue, which is rarely heard, is also hard to understand, mostly due to the accents. However, this film is less focused on sound than it is on visual elements, and those are generally well defined.
HOME VISION has included numerous supplements for this release. A lengthy documentary, “HOW THE MYTH WAS MADE” follows George Stoney visiting the islands where his family had actually lived, and explores the realities and fictions behind the original film, by interviewing real inhabitants, as well as crew associated with the original film.
“LOOKING BACK” is a short featurette wherein Flaherty offers a few snippets about his film.
“FLAHERTY AND FILM” is comprised of an interview between a Harvard film studies director and Robert Flaherty’s wife, Frances. During this segment, snippets from the film, and new stories about the film’s initial development are discussed.
“HIDDEN AND SEEKING” is a lengthy documentary following Mrs. Flaherty around her home in Vermont.
Also included are stills, publicity photos and more.