A River Runs Through it (1992)

Robert Redford’s film is a winning drama you can count me in for every time it plays. The story of a rural family in gorgeous Montana and two brothers is one I identify with. I think anyone who’s ever had thirsty aspiration and tasted bitter lament can enjoy the essence of.



“[imdblive:plot]” -IMDB



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As a man who grew up in America and who has become a writer of things, specifically through the discipline of letters, this film captivated me in my 20’s and I have called it one of my favorite films ever made ever since. I still get goosebumps at certain places in the film. It is certain deserving of being on my list of Riley’s Great 100.

Robert Redford is a household name as an actor. He’s been in films that moved millions such as The Way we Were and Brubaker. These are just two in a lifetime career that any film fan from the 70’s to now will know the emotive quality of. Who can forget his outdoor survival skills in Jeremiah Johnson. He will live in many people’s’ minds as the reclusive millionaire in the Great Gatsby. His face and voice have always been calming and reassuring as an American making American films. That’s why A River Runs Through it is a slice of true Americana in his catalog. It’s a film he directs and narrates only though Redford emanates out of every aspect from the forest cinematography to the fly fishing of actors Tom Skerritt, Craig Sheffer, and Brad Pitt. Redford is the perfect director the paint this portrait in a movie.

The film is based on the autobiographical writings of Norman Maclean. Maclean was a writer and poet who also taught at University in Montana. It is simply his sublime personal account of life in Montana as the son of a Presbyterian minister. Whether it’s stealing beers and boats of finding out you can never change some people, the account is chock full of life aphorisms and good advice. You can smell the lumber and the oil lamps. The 1940’s Fords have that clackety clack sound that takes you back to the future to a time that has been all but forgotten were it not for Maclean’s account.

Sheffer plays a young Maclean. He is the older of two brothers and Brad Pitt plays the younger. One brother is responsible and seems to make all the right choices while the other is reckless. Both are better than some in the town however. Watching the boys grow up and make their way in the world is interwoven with poetry and narration straight from the book.

The cinematography and acting in this powerful nature based film make it a glorious work of art. The sets and props are all made to look like the 1940’s. It’s as if you are transported there while watching. We hear the flaws of religion and other institutions. Then we see the beauty of 2 wiry and wily brothers growing up. They make many mistakes and the film impersonally and simply lets the consequences play out. It;s a film about finding ones way and reaching out to help others find theirs, even when they don’t accept your help. For many years I have called this my favorite film of all time.


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