If this film was made today it would be shortened to a one hour (or 50 minutes to allow for adverts) TV programme sponsored by a furniture store and be saddled with some past-it comedian attempting to develop a second career so that the programme would be as much about their reactions and experiences as it would the subject matter at hand. The documentary film, like all genres, has undergone so many changes as to be virtually unrecognisable from John Grierson's silent study of a fishing expedition from the 20s. Thanks to the fact of its silence, the film stands as an example of pure documentary-making, free of any personalities or voices explaining to the viewer what, more often or not, they can see for themselves. The fact that we can't hear the sound of the sea, the call of the sea birds, or the noise of the men at work doesn't detract from the film but concentrates the viewers' senses on the visual and also adds a certain romanticism to what, in truth, must have been a back-breaking and unpleasant job. The editing is superb, showing us everything we need to see in a natural and logical order, but with a rhythm that prevents it from becoming mechanical. The fishermen go about their duties with little hint of self-consciousness or awareness of the camera other than that stoker, of course, who casually lights his cigarette from a flaming shovelful of coals before he throws them into the furnace. If, like me, you don't watch many documentaries, give this one a chance it might just change your opinion of them.
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