Thursday, July 19, 2012

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

This is a delightful movie about faith, persistence and humility. Dr Alfred Jones (Ewan McGregor), Britain's fisheries expert, is drafted into pulling off a most extraordinarily improbable feat. A sheikh (Amr Waked) loves fishing and wants the sport of fly-fishing to be brought to a man-made river in the Yemen desert so people can experience the peace and serenity of salmon fishing. He has a consultant of his investment firm, Harriet Chetwoode-Talbot (Emily Blunt), make it a reality by contacting Dr Jones. 

The sheikh convinces Dr Jones ("Fred") to embark on this project for which money is no object. He tells Fred that he needs to have faith. Faith and fish have a lot in common he says. Salmon spend years wandering the deep oceans only to return to spawn in the freshwater rivers where they were born. They swim upstream, often jumping up small waterfalls to reach their destination in the great salmon run. It seems to be almost an impossible feat of nature. Yet, like faith, these salmon go against the odds and follow what is most deeply ingrained in them. There is a wonderful shot in the film where we see Fred on a crowded city sidewalk going the opposite direction of the stream of people. It's like he's going against what is most reasonable and scientific and stepping out in faith, and sometimes that means going against the crowd. But, "why fishing?" Fred asks the sheikh. And he says because, "fishermen have the virtues of patience, persistence and humility."

Prior to the completion of the project of getting 10,000 salmon into a dam-created river, the sheikh tells Fred, "Sometimes we do something to glorify God. Instead I wonder if we did something to glorify man. That's a very fine line." And this is where humility comes in. We can do great things but always recognize that we are still finite creatures. We can try to manipulate nature but we can't control it. The three together achieve their goal only for disaster to strike.  But, somehow, this whole experiment for Fred and for Harriet was not about fishing at all. They both, through persistence and patience, found life, new life...and love.

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