This semester, I’m attending a course on Irish cinema. Each week, we are expected to write a blog-like journal about the film we watched in class and/or our class discussion about the film. I’ve decided to include those entries to my blog, so it would be more agreeable to read than a Word document. This was my entry about our class discussion on Man of Aran (week 2)
What a stimulating class it was! After watching Robert Flaherty’s Man of Aran (a “staged” documentary), the class was divided in two in order to create a debate on if the film was honoring the reality of the people from Aran despite the fact that a lot of it staged. That was not the exact question, but it was something similar to that. As I like to be original and not always follow the crowd, I went for the “yes” side, those who thought Flaherty was somehow faithful to the culture of people from Aran.
While I felt a bit asleep during the screening (sorry!), the debate was a good way to stimulate the class and create complete and interesting discussions: first, between our “group”, while we were sharing our ideas, and then, during the debate with the opposite team. I first thought the side who was “against Flaherty’s cinematographic representation of people from Aran” would have more arguments, better and more convincing ones, as this was pretty much the easiest point to defend, but, to my surprise, we turned out to be pretty good and found awesome counter arguments. The more we debated and share our points, the more I was convinced I was on the right side. We first have to understand that Flaherty might not necessarily represent ALL the reality of Aran, but he certainly is faithful to a part of it (otherwise, what’s the point?), and that is a good start. The director gave his vision of what he was filming, but I don’t think he had the intention of overshadowing the reality, maybe more to “glorify” it if I can say so.
The exercise was an interesting one as it allowed us to go out from the usual beating tracks of university courses where people just sit and listen to a teacher talk and talk… It’s because of such original film discussions that we don’t see the time passing in Irish Film Studies!
“Man of Aran- review.” The Guardian, March 10, 2011, https://www.theguardian.com/film/2011/mar/10/man-of-aran-review.