A River Runs Through It, 1992


Directed by Robert Redford


In a small Montana town during the early 20th century lived two brothers, Norman and Paul. They grew up with the same reserved father who demanded hard work, but showed his love through the teaching of fly fishing. Despite this, the two brothers take very different paths while remaining close to one another. Norman is the level-headed, responsible one. He is even nicknamed “Preacher” and “Professor” by his and Paul’s friends. Paul, on the other hand, is more free-spirited, even reckless and often wild. Paul holds a steady job, but is often arrested after his nights of drinking, fighting, and gambling. The brothers are the best of friends, but live in different worlds. Norman finds it hard to make sense of his brother. That is, except when they are fishing the river together. There they need no words to communicate their camaraderie and bond – the water, the trees, and the pureness of their sport does it for them.


I watched this as a child and was sucked in by scenery (awarded Oscar for cinematography), the colorful characters, and the melodic pace. I didn’t understand the story exactly, but I vaguely knew that each scene, each snapshot that dropped in as their lives progressed, was a piece of something meaningful.

The experience that time has brought me has made me appreciate the story as a whole, though I could still get lost in the idyllic beauty and emotion of individual scenes. It’s surprising how subtly tension is built throughout the movie, if at all. You don’t need expectation to want to stick with the story. The characters and the plot are enough to want to observe these people’s lives. After the movie is over, you will continue to think about it, especially if you have ever had an experience similar to the situation at the end.


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