Man of Aran

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This article is about the documentary. For the British Sea Power album, see Man Of Aran (album).
Man of Aran
Man of Aran (film).jpg
Directed by Robert J. Flaherty
Produced by Michael Balcon
Written by Robert J. Flaherty
Starring Colman 'Tiger' King
Maggie Dirrane
Michael Dillane
Music by John D. H. Greenwood
Cinematography Robert J. Flaherty
Edited by John Goldman
Distributed by Gaumont British Distributors
Release dates 18 October 1934 (US)
Running time 76 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English, Irish

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.

The UK rock band British Sea Power was asked to record a new soundtrack for the film's 2009 DVD release, performing the score at a series of live events in the UK including one accompanying the film itself at the British Film Institute.[1]

The film won the Mussolini Cup for best foreign film at the 2nd Venice International Film Festival.

Flaherty's legacy is subject of the 2010 British Universities Film & Video Council award-winning and FOCAL International award-nominated documentary '"A Boatload of Wild Irishmen", written by Professor Brian Winston of University of Lincoln, UK, and directed by Mac Dara Ó Curraidhín. In the staged climactic sequence of Man of Aran, Flaherty said he'd been accused of "trying to drown a boatload of wild Irishmen".

The Cripple of Inishmaan by Martin McDonagh is a play set on the Aran Islands at the time of the filming of Man of Aran.


  • Colman 'Tiger' King—A Man of Aran
  • Maggie Dirrane—His Wife
  • Michael Dillane—Their Son
  • Pat Mullen—Shark Hunter
  • Patch 'Red Beard' Ruadh—Shark Hunter
  • Patcheen Faherty—Shark Hunter
  • Tommy O'Rourke—Shark Hunter
  • 'Big Patcheen' Conneely of the West—Canoeman
  • Stephen Dirrane—Canoeman
  • Pat McDonough—Canoeman

See also[edit]


  1. ^ British Sea Power Soundtrack. 'Man of Aran' nears release,, 23 January 2009. Accessed online 8 April 2009.

External links[edit]