Robert Flaherty

Life
1884-1951; Film-maker; dir. of Men of Aran (1934); criticised by British Censors for showing poverty on the screen.

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Criticism
Arthur Calder-Marshall, et al., The Innocent Eye: The Life of Robert J. Flaherty (NY 1966; var. 1963).

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Commentary
Beatrice Campbell [née Elvery; later Lady Glenavy] met Robert Flaherty in Dublin and called in ‘a perfect fat pink good-looking simple wise American’ in a letter to Shelah Richards. (See Bernard Adams, Denis Johnston: A Life, Lilliput Press 2002, p.118.) Further, ‘Mrs Flaherty, “because of a confused sense of geography”, suggested singing “God Save the King”. Determined to show both gratitude and broadmindedness, “the chief islander stood up, flung his hat on the floor with a great gesture and said: ‘B’God, I will sing God Save the King for Mrs Flaherty and no man will stop me’, However, on it being explained to Mrs F. that this was not the local popular anthem, this great sacrifice was avoided and we duly sang “The Soldiers’ Song”’ [quoting Johnston]. (ibid; p.126.)

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Notes
Tim Robinson gives an account of Aran Islanders reaction to Man of Aran in Stones of Aran (Lilliput 1995). The making of the film provides a context for a play of Martin MacDonagh.

Pat Mullen, Man of Aran (Faber 19934), the autobiography of the man who acted as Flaherty’s liaison with the islanders, having spent many years in America after his departure on board the Corean out of Galway in 1905 [Patrick O’Sullivan, Diaspora List, Bradford.]

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