Mar 9, 2012

Salmon Fishing In The Yemen

Yes, another major motion picture with the words “Fishing” in the title has arrived to theaters world-wide. This one actually contains two words that are dear to our hearts in the Pacific Northwest: "Fishing" and "Salmon". The third major word in the title…"Yemen" doesn’t quite seem to fit, but maybe we can play along?

Ok, here it is (just as stated above): Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. Yes, believe it or not, this is the title. Many of the mainstream movie critics are not letting this issue pass lightly – their major gripe being that it doesn’t quite represent what the movie is truly about, let alone its inability to captivate the masses.

This title, however, is what pulls people like us into the theater. These words sell us tickets – makes us stand in line, use public restrooms, buy over-priced snacks and stick our shoe soles to the theater floor. We’ve been waiting a while… Not since A River Runs Through It, have our angling hearts been so deeply touched by a story on the big screen. And we’ll likely be waiting for a long, long time for a similar experience. After all, it is a tall peak to climb…

In this film, Ewan McGregor plays a British fisheries scientist who gets goat-roped into helping a Yemeni Sheik achieve his fantastical vision for his country and his people. The Sheik hopes to introduce a viable salmon population to the desert as a way to bolster tourism and a sense of national pride. McGregor, who is hesitant at best, is joined on this journey by actor, Emily Blunt and together they embark on this monumental project discovering along the way that it's their own lives that need the most attention.

So, here is the trailer:

A few moments from this trailer stick in my mind:  The one where McGregor is holding the fly in hand, as well as the sheik tossing a little line from a fly rod. I like this, and I like the idea of people accomplishing difficult tasks or their inherent dreams. There is one quote from the flick: “Sometimes you’ve got to swim against the current.” And I like this as well…

But I am plagued:

-In a landscape that is hospitable to only warm water suckers, bream, tilapia and pellano – salmon do not belong here and they would not likely survive.

-Who would such a project really benefit? Not all are wealthy here. How many people who fish via hand lines and struggle to stay breathing would actually benefit?

-Why Yemen when wild, natural stocks are suffering in their natal watersheds worldwide? Here in the Pacific Northwest, many stocks are gone forever and many remain on the Endangered Species List! This fact and the difficulty faced in terms of recovery almost seems fictional in itself.

Ok I know, this is Hollywood. This is an environment where the outlandish can take top honor. Maybe the producers are banking on these words, “Salmon Fishing In The Yemen” to prey on exactly this. People transforming, rising to the occasion and accomplishing that which is difficult or impossible. I get this. But instead of putting fishing in a fantastical light to highlight the importance of someone’s life, let’s not forget to use our own lives to highlight the importance of this resource; where the fish and the places they call home is what needs the most fixing – especially where salmon are concerned, this should always be the main plot regardless of what sells.

I have not yet seen the movie. So I am not entirely informed, but I will likely find myself there at some point. After all, it does involve fly fishing on some level. The acting should be good… and there is just something intriguing about a man wearing a tunic casting a fly into a river.

They actually need to "swim against the current".

Have a good time,


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