“Man of Aran” is an early documentary film by Robert J. Flaherty depicting the rough, sea-sprayed life on the Aran Islands, “wastes of rock… without trees… without soil” off the western coast of Ireland. Flaherty had already won acclaim for his even earlier, 1922 documentary “Nanook of the North,” considered an important milestone in filmmaking. Chances are good you’ve not seen either of them unless you went to film school, but the latter is as much a part of vernacular as “Birth of a Nation.”
I’d never seen “Man of Aran” until recently. The excuse was that it’s been re-released with a new score by UK rock band, British Sea Power. The score compliments the film beautifully, sharpening craggy shores, wisping about the character’s frayed knit sweaters, swelling around a monstrous basking shark the men hunt with harpoon and daring.
Listening to the soundtrack solo is a treat too, and it stands alone as a worthy record. I leave soon, not for the isles of Aran, but for one in the Caribbean, and I’ve already put this on my blackberry for listening at 30,000 feet. After the captain says it’s okay of course.