A River Runs Through It

1992 | Drama | 123 minutes | English


In Missoula, Montana, the Maclean brothers, Norman and Paul, and their father John, a Presbyterian minister, are avid fly fishermen. The river and fly fishing form a strong bond between the brothers and their father. Norman goes off to Dartmouth with a focus on being an educator and writer. Paul becomes a fearless muckraking reporter at a newspaper in Helena. Norman returns home, marries  local girl, Jessie, and is offered a teaching job at the University of Chicago. Paul, unfortunately, gets hooked with gamblers and finds  himself deeply in debt. One night, Norman is called by police and informed that Paul was found in an alley beaten to death. 
In the closing scene, the elderly Norman, once again fly fishing on the same river, narrates the final lines from his novella:
“Of course now I’m too old to be much of a fisherman, and now I usually fish the big waters alone, although some friends think I shouldn’t. But when I’m 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 Blackfoot River, and the four-count rhythm, and a 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.”  
Craig Sheffer (Norman Maclean) / Brad Pitt (Paul Maclean) / Tom Skerritt (Reverend John Maclean) / Emily Lloyd (Jessie Burns)
Why Stream This Film?
Fly fishing unites a father and his sons and, yet,  each defines his own unique definition of family. It’s a beautiful film.
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus):80%
  • Metacritic Score: 68
  • Academy Awards: Winner, Best Cinematography (Philippe Rousselot); Nominated, Best Screenplay (Richard Friedenberg)
  • Golden Globe Awards: Nominated, Best Director (Robert Redford) 
Redford directs with a fluid grace to capture the idyllic, light-drenched aura of Maclean’s early childhood memories. Even the seemingly unexciting fly-fishing sequences take on a magical air worthy of Spielberg.
Michael Rechtshaffen

The Hollywood Reporter

Here are two things I never thought I’d say: I like a movie about fly fishing and Robert Redford has directed one of the most ambitious, accomplished films of the year.
Caryn James

The New York Times

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