Movies I Always Watch "A River Runs Through It"

I’ll start this review with the disclaimer that I’ve had crush on Robert Redford since 1969. Mom and Dad took me to see “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”. I was done for.

Though not in this film, Redford directed, and acted as the narrator for the main character’s adult self. His skill as a director shines, keeping the pace of the story moving along, just like the river. The casting is perfect. Tom Skerritt as Rev. Maclean has that Presbyterian minister’s gravitas and gracefulness that makes them seem as if they float a few inches above the ground, especially in their vestments. Brenda Blythen, as Mrs. Maclean, the devoted and doting mother, has a small role but played perfectly.  You can see the love she has for her sons in every scene.

In the two main roles, Craig Sheffer and Brad Pitt are the perfect counter balance to each other. Norman (Sheffer) is dutiful, conventional, and studious. Paul (Pitt) is gregarious, rebellious and volatile. They are bound by their love for each other, their parents, and fly fishing.

Montana (yes the state) also has a starring role, its mountains, canyons and vistas pull you into the movie.

And a river runs through it.

The River……………real and metaphorical………… carries the trout they try to coax up with their flies, and the years of life as they flow past them. As Norman, Redford says in the narration, "In my family, there is no clear division between religion and fly fishing." It’s a film about men, and brothers, family and faith. With God’s creation as the backdrop to the story of their lives. The film is based on Norman Maclean’s book, telling the true story of his life. Just writing this reminds me that I need to add it to my reading list.

I watch this movie over and over, even though I know it will likely make me cry, because it is an elegant, timeless story. Sometimes the people around us, and closest to us, move in directions that we are powerless to change. No matter how much we care for someone, or how much we would like to keep them from things that will hurt them, we can’t always achieve that.

Though I’m not a parent, I often agonized over the pain “kids” in my youth group experienced due to the choices they made. As their pastor I could influence , but not rule them. Rev. Maclean says in a sermon. “Each one of us here today will at one time in our lives look upon a loved one who is in need and ask the same question: We are willing to help, Lord, but what, if anything, is needed? For it is true we can seldom help those closest to us. Either we don't know what part of ourselves to give, or, more often than not, the part we have to give is not wanted. And so it is those we live with and should know, who elude us. But we can still love them - we can love completely without complete understanding.”

You seldom see this kind of depth in a movie.

If you’ve never seen this film, knock on my door if you’re close by…………..we’ll watch it together. If you're far away, watch it anyway and let me know what you think.

The closing lines are beautiful, even if you’ve never seen it. “But when I am alone in the half light of the canyon all existence seems to fade to a being with my soul and memories. And the sounds of the Big Black Foot River and a four count rhythm and the hope that a fish will rise. Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.

I am haunted by waters."

See this movie.


Anonymous said…
You should read the book. All the beautiful language in the movie is directly from the book and the book is even more beautiful.
The Chick Voice said…
I most certainly will. Ahhh that I could write words such as that.
HR Mom said…
Great movie, always makes me cry. We could watch this together (I have the VHS..LOL) Maybe we should read the book in book club?

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