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River Essay, Research Paper

Review: A River Runs Through It is a deceptively simple story about a typical, early-twentieth century Montana family. It traces the lives of two brothers from boyhood to adulthood. Water, and a river in particular, are symbolic of the fact that most of the events in any life are accidental or arbitrary, especially the crucial ones. This is one of those movies that truly transports you to another time and another place. The Montana wilderness is breathtaking, and the scenes of the fly-fishing are exceptional. Robert Redford seems too have a talent of capturing dysfunctional families on film. His Oscar-winning “Ordinary People”, displayed his remarkable ability to convey such material. Much of the film focuses on Norman’s efforts to understand Paul as he attempts to derail the latter’s self-destructive tendencies. I particularly remember when Norman is trying to convince Paul to come with him and Jesse to Chicago, and Paul’s response: “Oh, I’ll never leave Montana, brother.” It was prophetic for many reasons and has much meaning. The one peaceful place in their lives is the river, where fly fishing takes on larger meaning as it provides sanctuary. One has to listen to the dialogue closely at times…the following is another example of the exceptional writing in this movie: Dear Jesse, as the moon lingers a moment over the bitterroots, before its descent into the invisible, my mind is filled with song. I find I am humming softly; not to the music, but something else; some place else; a place remembered; a field of grass where no one seemed to have been; except a deer; and the memory is strengthened by the feeling of you, dancing in my awkward arms. The final scene of the old man standing there in the river is one of my favorite endings of all time…few lines are as chilling as the narrator s I m haunted by waters. Review by Aaron Caldwell


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