Man of Aran

Man of Aran
Man of Aran
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
Editing by John Goldman
Release date(s) October 18, 1934 (U.S. release)
Running time 76 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English, Irish

Man of Aran (1934) is a fictional documentary (docufiction) 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 Cripple of Inishmaan by Martin McDonagh is a play set on the Aran Islands at the time of the filming of Man of Aran.

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


  • Colman 'Tiger' King — A Man of Aran
  • Maggie Dirrane — His Wife
  • Michael Dillane — Their Son
  • Pat Mullin — 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


  1. ^ British Sea Power Soundtrack. 'Man of Aran' nears release,, 23 January 2009. Accessed online 08 April 2009.

External links

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