"Where It All Started"
The film that started it all. The first of the modern fishing films, "Tarpon" was shot in the wild panorama of 1970s Key West. Colorful scenes of Key West from another era — with treasure hunters, smugglers, hippies & eccentrics — are background to stunning cinematography & tarpon fishing at its finest.
MidCurrent encouraged the rescue this film from a leaking barn in France and helped bring it to DVD more than 30 years after it was filmed.
Video Length: 90 Minutes
(See a clip of "Tarpon" here.)
Original music written & performed by Jimmy Buffett.
Besides including some of the only footage of Richard Brautigan, the cult 60s poet and novelist, "Tarpon" also features commentary by legendary guides Woody Sexton, Steve Huff, and Gil Drake, as well as Page Brown, an ardent Keys conservationist.
The 1974 film "Tarpon," which was shot in Key West, Florida by UYA Films, has been a well guarded cult classic in fly-fishing's underground. You were the envy of your circle of friends, if you "owned" a bootleg copy or a buddy let you watch his. Now fans everywhere can leap and splash like a tarpon, because UYA Films has released a fully-restored DVD of "Tarpon" commercially.
The first of the modern fishing films, "Tarpon" features early guides and anglers as they fly fish for tarpon in the wilderness of the Florida Keys. The film captures the essence of the sport in dramatic footage and in the appearance and commentary of popular authors Thomas McGuane, Jim Harrison and Richard Brautigan. Colorful scenes of Key West from another era with treasure hunters, smugglers, hippies and eccentrics‹are background to stunning cinematography and tarpon fishing at its finest. To top it off, Jimmy Buffet also composed original music for the film.
Tom Brokaw recently said this about the film: "Tarpon" is a timeless and beautifully executed film about life, sport and culture. You'll be moved, amused, outraged and, most of all, entertained.
The film was born from a 1972 visit to the Florida Keys by filmmaker Christian Odasso and Guy de la Valdéne, an avid angler who already had a few years of experience in fly fishing for Keys tarpon. Enraptured by the aesthetics and ethics of the catch-and-release fishing, Odasso paired with de la Valdéne to co-direct the film. With a mostly French crew, the shoot took approximately seven weeks and the resulting film was edited in Paris. Saved by the filmmaker's daughter from a dripping barn in the Normandy countryside where it lay untouched for the last 35 years, the film was recently restored and digitized for DVD by Guy de la Valdéne.
This long-lost gem of a film has acquired cult status in the fly fishing world, and with good reason. It has the most breathtaking footage of the tarpon-stalking experience that you'll ever see. Like the fish itself, this is a work of art.
—Carl Hiaasen, author
While the footage focuses on the magnificence of tarpon, the directors chose to interview many of the top guides and conservationists of the era and include their observations and concerns about the future of the fish they pursued. The film's message about the importance of releasing fish was far ahead of its time and prescient in highlighting the increasing pressure on fish by sportsmen, tourists and boaters. It reinforced an ethic among thousands who managed to get a pirated copy of the film in the 35 years since its making. The sharp contrasts drawn by the film perhaps best exemplified by a scene in which tourists recoil in fascination from party boat crew members clubbing and throwing sharks and sport fish into barrels made it difficult for the producers to find a distributor when the film was completed. At the time, PBS was interested in screening the film in the U.S., but most distributors expressed reluctance to work with the film unless the producers removed scenes like this which highlighted the wasteful practices of the era.
Tarpon is a gem and, frankly, a window on better days. Without a profound respect for tarpon, this celebration of their majestic power and the enchantment of their pursuit, could never have been made. Tarpon fishing was and is a dream, and this may be the only time it's been captured.
—Tom McGuane, author
Founded in 1973 by Christian Odasso, UYA Films is a film, commercial and artistic production company. UYA1s first documentary Tarpon (1973) has recently been restored and will be available for online purchase in June 2008. Past productions include a six hour program on the Maya civilizations; also various commercial films for Renault and Citroên. A future endeavor involves a joint non-profit project with the Albert Schweitzer hospital in Deschapelles, Haiti and a documentary series in the south of Spain.
Christian Odasso began his documentary filmmaking career in Paris, France. Initially a cinematographer, he worked extensively with Francois Reichenbach and together they won numerous awards, including the main prizes at Cannes (the Palme d'Or and the Prix Special du Jury), Berlin (L'Ours d'Or), Locarno (the Voile d'Or), the Prix Louis Deluc and an Academy Award. His films have had worldwide distribution in festivals, theatres and on television. He has also done extensive work in short and long format commercials and promotional films, for Dior, Moet- Hennessy, Perrier, Air France, Club Med, Renault and CitroÎn.
Christian has collaborated with directors such as Orson Welles, Chris Marker, Claude Lelouch, and Martin Scorsese. His documentaries range from encounters with artists such as Salvador Dali, Dunoyer de Segonzac, Gromaire; musicians such as Van Morrison, BB King, Pink Floyd, Jimmy Buffet; athletes such as Jean Claude Killy, Pele, Bjorn Borg; movie stars such as Jeanne Moreau and Brigitte Bardot; writers such as Carlos Fuentes, Richard Brautigan, Jim Harrison, Thomas McGuane, Michel Delon; to explorations of indigenous Mexican culture to JFK's funeral, to performances at the Opera de Paris and with the Maurice Bejard dance company. He has also done extensive work in short and long format commercials and promotional films, for Dior, Moet- Hennessy, Perrier, Air France, Club Med, Renault and Citroën.
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Tarpon is an oldie but is great none the less.
Great footage. Interesting to see how far the sport has come and the old footage of Key West. On par with old National Geographic.
Generally uneventful .
The really cool part was seeing Steve Huff as a young man.
I haven't fished for Tarpon, but this film has certainly aroused my curiosity about this amazing creature! The film transfer to DVD format is excellent and this film is a cultural touchstone in terms of what it shows the viewer about Key West in the mid-70's, the juxtaposition of fly fishing vs the tourist fishing boat (oh my goodness, what a scene!), and the flats fishing scenes which are very well shot. The film of course highlights several literary greats, which was fun to see because these three men are so very different, their published works vary enormously yet they share the common bond of the quiet sport.