A River Runs Through It

Directed by Robert Redford
Starring: Craig Scheffer, Brad Pitt, Tom Skerritt, Brenda Blethyn.
MPAA Rating: PG

Review by Shawn Drury <shawn@filmhead.com>
March 17, 2000

For many filmgoers Robert Redford will always be the Sundance Kid. However, with his latest directorial effort, Redford has made a film which is, in part, an ode to the serene Montana landscape of the 1900s, an interpretation far different than any vision of the West-famed gunslinger could have imagined.

The film, based on the Norman Maclean autobiography, captures the scenic environs of fly-fishing. But it is not about bait or spinners or even casting, but rather the relationship between a father (Tom Skerritt) and his sons Norman (Craig Sheffer) and Paul (Brad Pitt). Their father is a preacher who is an expert fly-fisherman, passing his knowledge of the sport to his two boys.

At first, Norman and Paul seem easily defined. Norman is the disciplined scholar and Paul, a rambunctious carouser. Yet, as the film expands it becomes clear that Paul is a contradiction, capable of warmth and alternately, rage, in all aspects of his life -- except when fishing.

When Norman returns from Dartmouth, he realizes that in his absence, fly-fishing has become more than a hobby for Paul, but also a means of expression. He has gone away from the technique taught to him by his father and put his own signature on the craft.

In so many films, the audience is presented characters who are one-dimensional. That is not the case in A River Runs Through It. Each character is fully developed, with Pitt particularly noteworthy.

Redford, director of Ordinary People (1980) and The Milagro Beanfield War (1988), serves as narrator for this film. In interviews, Redford has said that he wants to make purely American films, and like baseball, fly-fishing serves as a perfect metaphor as an American theme.

A River Runs Through It illustrates that the game, the sport, or the event is not nearly as important as the experience and expression that bridges generations.


For more information, go to the Internet Movie Database:
A River Runs Through It (1992)

Here's some merchandise for sale at Amazon.com
A River Runs Through It (1992) -- VHS
A River Runs Through It (1992) -- DVD
A River Runs Through It, a memoir by Norman Maclean -- Hardcover
A River Runs Through It, a memoir by Norman Maclean -- Paperback
A River Runs Through It, a memoir by Norman Maclean -- Audio Cassette (read by Ian Doig)
A River Runs Through It: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack -- Compact Disc


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