Posted on June 11 2008
It’s been a long time coming — thirty-four and a half years, to be exact — but UYA Films has finally released the commercial version of the film “Tarpon.” The re-mastered and color-corrected film is out on DVD, and having watched a bootleg copy of the original about 100 times, I was surprised by the quality of the new digitized version. Sure, there are a few “newsreel” scratches in the opening frames, but the scenes that matter most to me — the young Tom McGuane talking with Richard Brautigan, Jim Harrison sitting in a hammock “coming to terms” with the fish, and especially the magnificent tarpon jumps — are even more mesmerizing.
Some quick backstory for those who’ve never heard of the film: “Tarpon” was filmed by Christian Odasso and Guy de la Valdene in Key West in 1974. They were inspired by the top guides of the era — Woody Sexton, Gil Drake, Steve Huff and others — to make a statement about what fly fishing for tarpon was really like and at the same time illustrate what threatened the fish and their habitat. The result was what Carl Hiaasen calls “a work of art.”
But the best way to get a sense of what the film is all about is to watch the trailer, which we’re happy to be able to show for the first time this week.