A River Runs Through It
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Product Description

A lyrical and nostalgic film from director Robert Redford (Quiz Show, Ordinary People), based on the popular autobiographical novel by Norman MacLean, A River Runs Through It shows the best that modern filmmaking has to offer. The film chronicles two brothers coming of age in early-20th-century Missoula, Montana, under the stern tutelage of their minister father, played by Tom Skerritt (Top Gun). Their father instills in them a love of fly fishing, which for one brother (Brad Pitt) becomes a lifelong passion even as he sets out to become a newspaperman and struggles with his addiction to gambling. The other brother, Norman (Craig Sheffer), dreams of exploring the world outside of Missoula as he falls in love with a local girl (Emily Lloyd) who also dreams of broader horizons. Soon one brother must discover the true meaning of family loyalty when the other finds himself in deeper trouble than ever before. Redford, who also narrates the film, does a masterful job in re-creating the period and in drawing out affecting performances from his young cast. An Oscar winner for Philippe Rousselot's luminescent cinematography, this is a poignant and special film. --Robert Lane

Customer Reviews:

  • A movie with many facets
    I first saw this movie soon after its 1992 release after reading an article about in a magazine. From a cinematography and emotional level standpoint, I never tire of it. Reading the book about a year later added to my enjoyment as well. MacLean's tight, but flowing style made the timelessness of this parable possible. A very young Brad Pitt gives one of the best performances of his career, but it is the story of the family that makes me want to see it again and again. I have shown it to my English classes for years, and it is a rare student who is disappointed (even though it came out just after they were born)....more info
  • Admittedly, not for everyone.
    Some people will complain that it's pace is slow, while others will praise it's deliberateness. Some will say it's boring, while others will say it is restrained. All in all, I think your mood when you see it will most impact your opinion. That being said, I found the film to have an almost magical quality as it tells the story of a family trying to make their way in a changing world. If you demand quick edits, a high-concept plot, and cliched paper-thin drama, the movie certainly is not for you. If you can accept the pacing, this movie cuts deep....more info
  • Spellbinding! Big Sky is calling...
    The narrative of Robert Redford is captivating, uplifting, and graceful. 'On the banks of the Big Blackfoot River....' a place I've been, and long to return. Nothing, el zippo, tops the splendor and majesty of Montana, nothing even comes close! It's timeless valleys, raging aqua-tinted torrents, and green alpine towns and villages dispersed all throughout its western landscapes define 'National Treasure.' Missoula, Montana, home to the Maclean family, is a good old fashioned town of turmoil and unsetteldness squaring off against an unmistakable serenity with nature's works and ways. 'To the beat of a four count rhythm....' might not be the most instructive of flyfishing casting approaches (I've lost many a woolybugger in willow trees climbable only by the most inane of flytiers), but it makes for undulating cinema. 'Oh I could never leave Montana brother...' is a line beckoning truth; after visiting Montana on several occasions (first was an Amtrack train ride in '94... ok a person could easily get up and go from Havre, MT) getting to catch sights of Glacier to the north, the Bitterroot range in the south, and all that lies in between (e.g. Flathead Lake)....there are no fleeting instincts. A geologist could be lost in paradise in, say, Yellowstone for ages, not even taking into consideration the abundance of mountain ranges lining Montana's western front - stretching north to south, from Great Falls to Anaconda. Redford's directing brings along the viewer through every imaginable trace of landmark - riverbanks, pubs, train stations, backyard fields with forest and mountain top afar, and even a couple sunburned rawhides! Not a favorite still shot. Boats are stolen, category 'forget about it' white waters are paddled through, unpaid gambling wagers bring conflict wrought with misunderstanding, dinner table discussions of Calvin Coolidge's fishing secret '...what are they bitin on?....The end of my line!' and job satisfaction are brought up, shortcuts winding their way through train tunnels are taken, and in the end, reflection and memories are revealed in honest fashion. Verdant pastures and picueresque backdrops steal the film's premise, offering more than just basic storyline. But the moment of closure is why I adore Robert Redford's film set in Missoula....in addition to the melancholic violin intermezzos.
    '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.'
    Anyone ever visiting Montana will register in their sights and other senses this inescapable impression. Don't forget, if you're going to fish these pristine waters (i.e. Yellowstone, Clearwater Creek, Madison, Bighorn, Big Hole, Gallatin, Beaverhead, Kootenai Rivers), catch-and-release is the only real keeper! A River Runs Through It is a Montana dreamscape. Once more, if going there, remember to 'Enjoy the Silence.' ...more info
  • Critics just make me laugh
    "Preachy"? "Self-Important"???? Good grief... Some people just feel the need to throw insults at anything. This movie was a rock solid story of a family conflicted on many different levels, but love still remained. Togetherness still remained, no matter how far apart they were physically, or the depths one of them may fall. What a great movie this was. Also, the cinematography and music was outstanding, capturing every moment. It's a shame that some people forget about the entire scope of a film, and just want to jump on the negatives. You'd really have to go out of your way and come up with BS like "self-important", or start jumping on the "Hollywood liberals" to rate this any less than 4 stars....more info
  • Outstanding
    Outstanding movie, and acting. Watch it over and over again. Too bad it spawned so many idiot "wannabes" to pick up a fly rod and clog the riverbanks....more info
  • Still waters run deep!
    Add this one to your library. Beautiful scenery, great story and great acting make this film a personal library keeper. This flim clearly showcases two things; namely, Robert Redfords directing genius and Brad Pitts acting depth. I think in many respects A River.... parallels Ordinary People in character, depth and scope. ...more info
  • Good, but not great.
    I enjoyed the scenery of this movie, which has breathtaking views. The casting was pretty decent as well. The other reviewers are right in the sense that this move does provide a feeling of sentimental values at the ending, but I was quite disappointed with the movie. I couldn't really sense too much of a theme from the movie because the character analyses seemed to be too vague in order for you to completely understand their dynamic nature. The ending, for instance, shocked me. I didn't really see it coming, especially since there was hardly any time for the main characters to reflect upon the action that had taken place, and left me without a sense of closure. The beauty of this movie is very aesthetic, I guess, and for what it is I would say it is a good movie, but not a great one by any means....more info
  • A story, an art.
    A movie that had no popular resonance but exemplified the beauty of water, trout, family, the sun, and the richness of life yet unexplored. We are a dying species, this film perhaps captures a few of us who perceive the transience of life and the beauty of seeing into the moment.

    The photography is a wonder, the theme is unique, the message is universal....more info
  • Wonderful Film By Robert Redford!
    When this film was first released, some critics called it more a travel commercial for Montana than anything else, since it so lovingly handles the scenes of the family members involved in the sacrament of fly-fishing. For those of us who fell in love with the original novel celebrating the ways in which the fishing proclivities of these two brothers framed the outlines of a wonderful story about coming of age, and the tragedy of personal misdirection, this film adaptation by Robert Redford strikes a responsive chord. As he did in "the Natural' and also in "The Horse Whisperer", Redford uses the staggering beauty of the natural environment to emphasize in boldface the ways in which each of us makes decisions as to how to conduct ourselves in ways that either foster our own development and growth, on the one hand, or to take a more sinister route, on the other.

    Brad Pitt is perfectly cast here, in the first opportunity he had to show his amazing acting range as the brother hell-bent on doing things the hard and ultimately destructive way in stark contrast to his older brother, played well by Craig Sheffer, who seems more grounded, better oriented, and more likely to be able to carry out his dreams, which ultimately take him away from his beloved Montana. The story basically revolves around the ways in which the choices each makes based on their own needs, perceptions, and personality seals their fates. In this sense it is as much a morality play as a story about the ways in which love and involvement don't necessarily cure all ills. Of course, it is also a story about the relationship each of the brothers has with their father, a minister who considers fishing more a religious activity than a sport. Yet Pitt's character, a natural fly-fisherman who casts like a dream, is unable to translate this particular form of genius into his own personal life to give him either peace or happiness.

    It is a lovely film, a terrific period piece, and a lovingly directed bit of transformation of a superb novel to the silver screen. We see so many characteristic Redford touch that one really can watch the movie just for the fishing scenes and come away dazzled by the way he employs the camera in a way that catches the marvel of Montana so unforgettably. I love this film. Enjoy!...more info

  • Beautiful
    I've heard naysayers badmouth this movie, but I've never understood it. They use descriptors such as "preachy", "overly dramatic", "self-important", and so on. Good grief! What are you, bait fishers (not that there's anything wrong with that)? This is the story of this man's family, and it is truly beautiful.

    I guide trout fishing trips in Missouri, so, of course, I love this movie partly for the fishing. This film explained my fly-fishing passion to my wife more effectively than my words and dragging her along on a few fishing trips ever could. The scenes are filmed magnificantly and are done in such a way that you can follow the logic and instinct that each fisherman uses to catch each fish. However, the story is so much more than this.

    The story begins with Norman making note that there was never a clear line between religion and fly-fishing in his family, and that parallel continues throughout the story and his life. Success as a fly-fisherman is based on knowledge, physical skill, intuition, and emotion, but balance is also required. That balance only comes through spirituality, whether you are stiving to be a Godly person, or whether you simply commune with nature in a spiritual fashion. Without balance, a tangled line can cause you to pull your hair out. With balance, even the most unsuccessful fishing trip brings joy. And so Norman stuggles with understanding his younger brother Paul, who has attained such miraculous balance on the river, but whose life away from the river is rapidly spinning out of control. In the end, the observant viewer should recognize that it is Paul's pride that eventually leads to his downfall, and it is the family's failure at their attempts to rescue Paul that they continue to struggle with the remainder of their lives as well.

    Norman spends his life trying to tap into God's balance through fly-fishing in the hopes that he will someday understand what happened to his family and why. Perhaps finally writing his book helped him to answer a few of those questions.

    Walt Fulps
    http://www.MissouriTroutHunter.com...more info
  • A Return To God's Land
    Robert Redford's _A River Runs Through It_ is a movie based on the autobiographical novel by Norman MacLean. The setting for this movie is the picteresque river country of Missoula, Montana. The story is told through the eyes of Norman MacLean, who reflects on his life of love, schooling, hardship, and fishing. Norm begins the story relaying the details of his father (Tom Skeritt), the minister and his quick-tempered younger brother Paul, played by Brad Pitt. As the picture progresses Norm tells of how is life revolved around to things: God and fly fishing. As Norm and Paul get older they split their ways. Norm aims for a life of academics and teaching in the Northeast, and Paul becomes a newspaperman in Montana with a nasty habit for gambling, fighting, and drinking. When Norm returns home after many years, he finds that things are no longer as he left them. It takes a reuniting with his father and brother and a new-found love to find out who he is and what he has lost....more info
  • A classic......
    Great movie!

    One of Brad Pitt's many, many great movies!

    A great story with great characters!

    If by some chance, you haven't seen it, watch it!!...more info
  • A Pile of Crap
    If there was somthing for NO stars, I would rate it that. This is the worst movie I have ever seen. It's beyond boring, there is no climax at all. The movie just drags on about some guy and his family. Hell, if this is such a great hit, maybe my dog can star in the sequel....more info
  • Beautifully Done!
    This is a spectacullar film! It sows the seeds of thought in the viewer and shows how powerful an impact a film can have.

    The movie focases on the lives of two brothers played by Brad Pitt and Craig Sheffer. It follows their lives as they grow up in Montana under the strict rules of their father (Tom Skerrit), the local preacher. The movie also explores the different paths that two boys with the same up-bringing can take.

    Robert Redford's excellent directing, and narration, along with strong performances by a well know cast, and the breathtaking cinematography make this a very memorable film....more info

  • would buy from them again, great doing business with them
    just like i said good doing business with them, and to just let u know i liked the other form u had for review and rate this item...more info
  • Why I like this movie?
    I'm not much of a fishing movie fan. But after watching this movie over 10 years ago, to make a long story short, I bought a fly fishing reel the next day and once I got the money to buy a fly rod, I bought a nice one. Got addicted to fly fishing and got better at it too. This movie is like a Jeep thing. It's either you like it or you wouldn't understand--the point that is. It's not about the river, it's about men and fishing. It just so happens you need a river to fly fish. Luckily I have one here. ...more info
  • Eventually All Things Merge Into One, And A River Runs Through It...
    A River Runs Through It is a haunting, powerful, nostalgic, drama directed by Robert Redford and based upon the autobiographical novella by Norman McLean. The film follows the McLean family growing up in rural Missoula Montana, raised on a steady diet of fly fishing and strict religious conservatism. The film embodies strong messages about the human condition and man's struggle against himself and his external reality. Showcasing the incredible acting abilities of a young Brad Pitt, breathtaking cinematography, and a lush sweeping score by Mark Isham, A River Runs Through It is simply one of the finest coming of age family dramas ever created. Won an Academy Award for Best Cinematography.

    The film opens with a shot of the river, and then a montage of sepia tone photographs of Missoula Montana in the 1930's. Redford memorably recreates the period, in an ode to early America. Norman McLean is (voice over narration by Robert Redford) recalling the memories of his life since past. We learn that he and his brother Paul (Brad Pitt) were brought up by his strict Presbyterian preacher father (Tom Skerrit), in an extremely conservative environment, their father introducing them to fly fishing, and yet making no clear distinction between the two. Although it will come to serve as a counter point to their religious grounding (Freedom versus Restraint). Fly fishing serves as a metaphor for the way that each son will approach life, literally and symbolically. The River (Water) is a constant motif in the film that also serves as the never-ending physical and emotional challenge that will eventually shape their destinies.

    We learn that Paul (Brad Pitt) is the rebellious younger brother, who "toughness came from somewhere deep inside of him", while Norman (Craig Sheffer) is the more conservative brother. In an early scene, Paul further rebels and refuses to eat his food. We watch the boys grow up. Paul comes up with an idea to steal a rowboat and "shoot the chutes", (ride the boat down the huge waterfall) everyone else chickens out when they finally reach the river, except Paul and Craig. Craig reluctantly goes along with his brother's impulsive urges, for fear of looking afraid. Back at home, the boys are confronted by their distraught parents, who found out from another one of the boys parents. Their father tells them that they will go to church and pray for forgiveness. The next morning during lunch, Norman and Paul engage in a brawl that is a result of their two personalities clashing. We hear that was the only time they ever fought. Norman is accepted into Dartmouth College on the east coast, while Paul stays in Montana. This begins to foreshadow Paul's inability to change his situation, while Norman has the means to seek his own path. Four years later, Norman returns home, Paul has taken a job as a Helena reporter, and developing as a fly fisherman. In their first fishing trip together, we learn that Paul has broken free from the structure of his father's "four count rhythm" and developed a more improvisational technique called "shadow casting". We begin to see how fly fishing will symbolize the course of Paul's life.

    Norman meets a pretty girl named Jessie Burns (Emily Lloyd) at the local fourth of July dance in an awkward encounter. He makes arrangements to see her again, and they meet Paul and his Indian girlfriend one night. Paul, has brought his Native American partner along, (a statement to the rebellion of his character) and causes some commotion at the bar. We meet Jessie's brother Neal, who is visiting from California, an arrogant, self flattering drunk, who is the heart of the Burn's family. Norman agrees to take Jessie's brother Neal fishing one day, and they return to find Neal and his friend passed out in the sun among a couple of empty beer bottles. In a mirrorlike situation, Jessie and her brother are symbolic of Paul and Norman. Jessie as Norman, and Neal as Paul. (note the similarity in name) Jessie asks Norman "How come the people who need the most help, won't take it." Norman is not able to answer her, and it is through their relationship that we begin to see the McLean's more clearly.

    The film slowly unfolds itself, letting the viewer appreciate it's subtle yet powerful storylines. Perhaps it is so effective because it appears matter of factly. It does not come across heavy handedly. Norman is called by the police station to pick his brother up one day, having gotten into a fight over his girlfriend. Paul becomes increasingly in debt at the local gambling house, and has also become an alcoholic. As his life slowly spirals into oblivion, he is unaware of the consequences of his actions. Norman immediately recognizes the destructive path that his brother is heading towards and offers to help. Paul stubbornly refuses to take the money and help that his brother has offered to him. Norman has been accepted to teach at the University of Chicago and urges Paul to come with him. Paul realizes that he will never leave Montana, and so does Norman. In the family's final fly fishing trip together, Paul has seemingly transcended the art of fly fishing, having mastered his method of "shadow casting", and makes an incredible catch. Paul has ironically found freedom from his father's religious upbringing through fly fishing, although he is simultaneously being destroyed by his own rebellion. We are presented with the duality of man and his conflicting inner desires to find equilibrium on many levels. Although Paul has found peace with nature, he is struggling to resolve inner demons that plague him. The inner demons that will eventually destroy him.

    Redford's commentary on the healing power of nature and the stubbornness of the human spirit is a a testament to man's universal struggle against himself. Indirectly, we recognize that there is only so much a family or person can do to protect someone. We realize that love is simply not enough, and that eventually a person will take their own path that they were meant to take. The River ultimately symbolizes the destinations that are unstoppable as much as nature itself is unstoppable. Everyone's course is their own. In its ambiguity and power, it is at once haunting and beautiful.

    *The rerelease A River Runs Through It contains a brand new Anamorphic widescreen presentation, the image is stunning, although "Deluxe Edition" is misleading. Aside from trailers, text only filmographies, and a collectible scrapbook, there are no additional special features*...more info
  • Better than I expected . . .
    Some years ago my brother had the promotion poster for this movie framed and hanging in a wall of his apartment, my first and only thought was that it was a pretty cool photo.

    But years after that I realized that it was a lot more and better than just that, when I came accross the actual DVD here on Amazon and I decided to give it a try on top of the nice price it was for sale.

    This is a film like those for instance, when it all starts at some point of the characters life and it takes you all the way through their lives until 20 or 30 years later, it is something like The Color Purple, Fried Green Tomatoes, The Green Mile, Driving Miss Daisy and I can keep going on and on . . .
    There are actually a lot of movies in that same path and in my humble and personal opinion, I love them.

    All in all this is a very nice and enjoyable movie, if you are into family issues and traditions and family life and situations in general
    then I would honestly recommend this one for you.

    You will like it and will enjoy it too ! ! ! ...more info
  • Remarkable
    "Long ago, when I was a young man, my father said to me, "Norman, you like to write stories." And I said "Yes, I do." Then he said, "Someday, when you're ready you might tell our family story. Only then will you understand what happened and why."

    These are the poignant, mysterious lines opening Robert Redford's A River Runs Through It (1992, PG). I missed this movie when it first came out and just saw it recently on video. It was a garage sale cast-off. My neighbor couldn't sell it and gave it to me. I watched it, didn't like it, and promptly consigned A River to dust bunny exile until another friend suggested I check out the soundtrack. I did. Something unexpected happened while listening to Mark Isham's Academy-Award nominated score over and over again: I began to understand the movie's unspoken undercurrents and emotion. Intrigued by its hauntingly beautiful music, I decided to give A River another go. I'm glad I did.

    Set in the early 20th century in Missoula, Montana, this enigmatic story centers around brothers Norman (Craig Sheffer) and Paul (Brad Pitt) Maclean, two sons of a Scottish Presbyterian minister played with consummate skill by Tom Skerritt. The quintessential big brother, Norman is reserved, scholarly and sensitive. Younger sibling Paul(ie) is rebellious, loquacious, a hard drinker, gambler, and brawler. Neither is an entirely agreeable character, neither is entirely disagreeable. Like most real people, these brothers have unique strengths and weaknesses and try to help each other through life without fully understanding who the other person truly is.

    I still don't "like" A River Runs Through It in the sense that it's an upbeat, easy-to-watch, "feel good" fluff piece - because it isn't. Instead, the movie offers a rare blend of affection, distance, dimension, beauty, insight and heartbreak that's both mysterious and captivating. At times the river seemingly embodies the Maclean family history: placid and serene on the surface, with occasional ripples and swells suggesting deep water or dangerous rapids ahead.

    Based on a novella by author Norman Maclean, through whose eyes the story is told, the screenplay brings a literary quality to the screen that's beautiful and moving. Combined with Academy-Award winning cinematography, solid performances all-around, and a story that's alternately evocative, taciturn, lively, and tragic, A River Runs Through It represents a formidable cinematic achievement of depth, perception, and substance.

    In the opening sequences, both young boys and father are united in their love for nature, the Big Blackfoot River and fly-fishing. Rev. Maclean teaches his boys the fine art of casting to a four-count rhythm cadenced by a metronome. Along the river they share experiences, casting techniques, stunning scenery, stories and life. Fishing scenes throughout the film create the sense that each man is at peace with himself and each other at the river while remaining distinctly separate and alone, as does the whole family in this elegant, elegiac story.

    Much of the power of this story is gained from its subtlety, which is created and sustained by the narration and masterful direction of Robert Redford. Rather than resorting to spectacular special effects, mind-numbing dialogue or the gratuitous sex and violence so commonly employed by lesser storytellers with thinner plots, A River expects audiences to pick up on various cues and clues peppered throughout the screenplay with just enough seasoning to maintain full flavor. A refreshing change from the typical bash-you-over-the-head-with-its-point kind of movie, A River relies on nuance and subtlety to convey its message.

    Some viewers - perhaps the less literary among us - have tagged this movie "boring." So did I, until I gave it a second chance. The story moves at a graceful pace while requiring viewers to engage their minds and hearts to follow a film that ultimately offers more questions than answers.

    Underlying themes may include a covert sibling rivalry between Norman and Paul. It breaks into the open just once - in a kitchen fist fight - but the undercurrents in tone, gesture, facial features and other non-verbals continue throughout the film. The movie obliquely hints at a dichotomy between Paulie "the tough guy" whose ready grin and lackadaisical, lassie-faire attitude belie an inner insecurity and perhaps some envy toward his "Rock of Gibraltar," respectable older brother. Note Paulie's reaction to Norman's announcement regarding the offer of a professorship at a prestigious university in Chicago. Paulie doesn't respond verbally, but his face and eyes speak volumes. This is coupled with Paulie's subsequent decline of Norman's invitation to join him and his future bride, Jessie, in leaving Montana to write for a Chicago newspaper.

    "Come with us" Norman urges. "Oh, "I'll never leave Montana, brother," Paulie replies, chewing his lip before plunging back into the river with his rod. From the way the line is delivered and Norman's reaction, you're not sure if it's a rebuke, a prophecy, or an eulogy. Whatever it is, the assertion underscores Paulie's continuing struggle to find his own way in life outside of his big brother's shadow. He then determinedly skims down the rapids to land an "unbelievable" fish. Narrates Redford, "At that moment I knew, surely and clearly, that I was witnessing perfection."

    "You are a fine fisherman!" proclaims Rev. Maclean as "mother's pictures" are snapped by Norman.

    "My brother stood before us, not on a bank of the Bigfoot River, but suspended above the earth, free from all its laws, like a work of art. And I knew, just as surely and clearly, that life is not a work of art, and that the moment could not last."

    *** SPOILER ALERT ***

    Norman's premonition proves true in the movie's compelling closing scenes. The Missoula police inform Norman that his brother has been found dead, "beaten to death by the butt of a revolver." We're not told exactly how or why this happened, but gather that Paul's murder is connected to his gambling debts and profligate lifestyle.

    The impact on the family is quietly immense. Echoing themes throughout the movie, family members are both together and alone in their grief at the same time. Visibly shaken, his mother wordlessly retires upstairs. "Is there anything else you can tell me?" Rev. Maclean quietly asks.

    "Nearly all of the bones in his hand were broken" replies Norman grimly, his stoic monotone belying a face etched with pain, shock, and traces of guilt.

    Pause. His father, still in his bathrobe, stands and gently asks, "Which hand?"

    "His right hand."

    As has occurred before in this under-stated film, the obvious is left unsaid: Paul's right hand was his fly-fishing casting hand. We get the impression that Norman spends the rest of his days struggling with his brother's untimely death as well as the bigger question: Who was this brother of mine?

    "Maybe all I really knew about Paul is that he was a fine fisherman" Redford narrates. "`You know more than that'," my father said. `He was beautiful.' And that was the last time we ever spoke of my brother's death."

    Only at the end does it become clear that Paul is meant to be a beautiful mystery. He's an enigma to viewers because Norman can't understand him any better than we can. Shortly before his own death, Rev. Maclean preaches a sermon that sums up the meaning of the film: "It is those we love and should know who elude us. But we can still love them. We can love completely, without complete understanding."

    A River isn't for everyone. I found the profanity and alcoholic consumption excessive and some minor scenes objectionable but not unreasonable given the subject and its characters. It's not an "easy" movie to watch in the sense that you can allow your mind to wander and still pick up on the visual and non-verbal clues concealed within its gentle subtext. This movie takes some attentive digging. But for those who appreciate a lavishly photographed, skillfully sequenced, superbly acted and subtlely nuanced study of family life and relationships, A River Runs Through It is one of the finest.

    "I am haunted by waters" is the final emotion-laden line of this remarkable movie. An old man who's out-lived nearly everyone he loved, Norman once again stands solo in the river with his fly-fishing rod and his memories. "Alone in the half-light of the canyon with the sounds of the Big Blackfoot 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. I am haunted by waters." Bring Kleenex.

    ...more info
  • Eventually All Things Merge Into One, And A River Runs Through It...
    A River Runs Through It is a haunting, powerful, nostalgic, drama directed by Robert Redford and based upon the autobiographical novella by Norman McLean. The film follows the McLean family growing up in rural Missoula Montana, raised on a steady diet of fly fishing and strict religious conservatism. The film embodies strong messages about the human condition and man's struggle against himself and his external reality. Showcasing the incredible acting abilities of a young Brad Pitt, breathtaking cinematography, and a lush sweeping score by Mark Isham, A River Runs Through It is simply one of the finest coming of age family dramas ever created. Won an Academy Award for Best Cinematography.

    The film opens with a shot of the river, and then a montage of sepia tone photographs of Missoula Montana in the 1930's. Redford memorably recreates the period, in an ode to early America. Norman McLean is (voice over narration by Robert Redford) recalling the memories of his life since past. We learn that he and his brother Paul (Brad Pitt) were brought up by his strict Presbyterian preacher father (Tom Skerrit), in an extremely conservative environment, their father introducing them to fly fishing, and yet making no clear distinction between the two. Although it will come to serve as a counter point to their religious grounding (Freedom versus Restraint). Fly fishing serves as a metaphor for the way that each son will approach life, literally and symbolically. The River (Water) is a constant motif in the film that also serves as the never-ending physical and emotional challenge that will eventually shape their destinies. We learn that Paul (Brad Pitt) is the rebellious younger brother, who "toughness came from somewhere deep inside of him", while Norman (Craig Sheffer) is the more conservative brother. In an early scene, Paul further rebels and refuses to eat his food. We watch the boys grow up. Paul comes up with an idea to steal a rowboat and "shoot the chutes", (ride the boat down the huge waterfall) everyone else chickens out when they finally reach the river, except Paul and Craig. Craig reluctantly goes along with his brother's impulsive urges, for fear of looking afraid. Back at home, the boys are confronted by their distraught parents, who found out from another one of the boys parents. Their father tells them that they will go to church and pray for forgiveness. The next morning during lunch, Norman and Paul engage in a brawl that is a result of their two personalities clashing. We hear that was the only time they ever fought. Norman is accepted into Dartmouth College on the east coast, while Paul stays in Montana. This begins to foreshadow Paul's inability to change his situation, while Norman has the means to seek his own path. Four years later, Norman returns home, Paul has taken a job as a Helena reporter, and developing as a fly fisherman. In their first fishing trip together, we learn that Paul has broken free from the structure of his father's "four count rhythm" and developed a more improvisational technique called "shadow casting". We begin to see how fly fishing will symbolize the course of Paul's life. Norman meets a pretty girl named Jessie Burns (Emily Lloyd) at the local fourth of July dance in an awkward encounter. He makes arrangements to see her again, and they meet Paul and his Indian girlfriend one night. Paul, has brought his Native American partner along, (a statement to the rebellion of his character) and causes some commotion at the bar. We meet Jessie's brother Neal, who is visiting from California, an arrogant, self flattering drunk, who is the heart of the Burn's family. Norman agrees to take Jessie's brother Neal fishing one day, and they return to find Neal and his friend passed out in the sun among a couple of empty beer bottles. In a mirrorlike situation, Jessie and her brother are symbolic of Paul and Norman. Jessie as Norman, and Neal as Paul. (note the similarity in name) Jessie asks Norman "How come the people who need the most help, won't take it." Norman is not able to answer her, and it is through their relationship that we begin to see the McLean's more clearly. The film slowly unfolds itself, letting the viewer appreciate it's subtle yet powerful storylines. Perhaps it is so effective because it appears matter of factly. It does not come across heavy handedly. Norman is called by the police station to pick his brother up one day, having gotten into a fight over his girlfriend. Paul becomes increasingly in debt at the local gambling house, and has also become an alcoholic. As his life slowly spirals into oblivion, he is unaware of the consequences of his actions. Norman immediately recognizes the destructive path that his brother is heading towards and offers to help. Paul stubbornly refuses to take the money and help that his brother has offered to him. Norman has been accepted to teach at the University of Chicago and urges Paul to come with him. Paul realizes that he will never leave Montana, and so does Norman. In the family's final fly fishing trip together, Paul has seemingly transcended the art of fly fishing, having mastered his method of "shadow casting", and makes an incredible catch. Paul has ironically found freedom from his father's religious upbringing through fly fishing, although he is simultaneously being destroyed by his own rebellion. We are presented with the duality of man and his conflicting inner desires to find equilibrium on many levels. Although Paul has found peace with nature, he is struggling to resolve inner demons that plague him. The inner demons that will eventually destroy him.

    Redford's commentary on the healing power of nature and the stubbornness of the human spirit is a a testament to man's universal struggle against himself. Indirectly, we recognize that there is only so much a family or person can do to protect someone. We realize that love is simply not enough, and that eventually a person will take their own path that they were meant to take. The River ultimately symbolizes the destinations that are unstoppable as much as nature itself is unstoppable. Everyone's course is their own. In its ambiguity and power, it is at once haunting and beautiful.

    *The rerelease A River Runs Through It contains a brand new Anamorphic widescreen presentation, the image is stunning, although "Deluxe Edition" is misleading. Aside from trailers, text only filmographies, and a collectible scrapbook, there are no additional special features*...more info