Weekend Warm-up: 50 Years of Solitude For ‘The Outsider’

How much do we really want solitude?

It’s not a question that The Outsider answers, at least not explicitly. Though this tone poem to loneliness never addresses why a man would choose to spend a half-century alone — that context suffuses every scene of this short documentary.

A transplant to his little slice of Irish paradise, Del Harding remains a mystery to viewers of this edit from the fishing publication, Fallon’s Angler.

We learn scant details about this man and his life in a patch of rainforest on the shores of Lough Derg, which has seen Christian pilgrims since the 5th century. Mostly, we hear three things: Harding loves fishing, and his dogs, and waxing philosophical about the world that he left behind.

He views carbon-fiber fishing rods as “totally unnecessary.” He believes in reincarnation and thinks he was probably a fighter pilot in a previous life. He dreams of crashing his plane during a war, which is why he now “hates flying.”

My favorite moment comes during the fishing scenes that dominate the film. While casting on the lake at night, Harding describes seeing something that gives him “the heebie-jeebies.” He considers checking it out to make sure it’s just the dead tree he assumes — rather than the mythic lake monster commonly discussed among Irish fishermen.

He steers back home instead.

the outsider

Del Harding’s little house in the forest. Photo: Screenshot


A former hippie

In a description of the film, we learn that Harding was an English hippie during the 1960s before dedicating his life to living in nature and avoiding civilization.

And according to Caught By The River, the filmmakers spent 14 years trying to track down this elusive angler.

Those details demand curiosity but don’t expect more of Harding’s history.

Why did Harding choose this life? What came before it? How did he acquire this land? Why did it take the filmmakers so long to find him, and how did they finally do it?

Was it the choice of the filmmakers to omit answers to those questions? Or did Harding refuse to answer them?

Why do some of us choose complete solitude in the first place?

Like avoiding a creepy shadow on a dark lake, the documentary steers away from the monster that may lurk at the edge of our sight.

Andrew McLemore

An award-winning journalist and photographer, Andrew McLemore brings more than 14 years of experience to his position as Associate News Editor for Lola Digital Media. Andrew is also a musician, climber and traveler who currently lives in Medellin, Colombia. When he’s not writing, playing gigs or exploring the outdoors, he’s hanging out with his dog Campana.