56 of 59 people found the following review helpful
I am haunted by waters.,
This review is from: A River Runs Through It (DVD)
I have heard it said that Norman Maclean's classic novella "A River Runs Through It" is the finest piece of American literature ever written. I don't understand how things like literature can be ranked in such simple terms. I will say, however, that it is one of my personal favorites. Spare, poetic and spellbinding. Perhaps one of the reasons that I love this novella so is because I grew up on a farm near the Rocky Mountains, and spent so much time when I was younger fishing and tracking through wood and field. Maclean's tale speaks to me of my youth in authentic and familiar terms.
I generally approach cinematic adaptations of literature, particularly of literature which I hold in such high esteem, with a certain amount of reluctance, even dread. Who could possibly capture the beautiful, simple craftmanship of Maclean's profound prose on celluloid? Evidently, Robert Redford. And he does it with grace and apparent ease. Many of Maclean's efficeintly magnificent words are provided through narration. While I generally find the device of voiceover narration distasteful (primarily because it is so often used to "coach" the viewer), in this case, the viewer is drawn into (and eased out of) Macleans world by Macleans own prose, and nothing could be more appropriate or satisfying. Also, the cinematography is nothing short of spectacular, capturing the magnificent, rugged expanse of Montana's "big sky" wilderness one moment, the golden intimacy of an afternoon on the river the next. I dare say that Redford has captured the essence of Maclean's abiding love for his childhood wilderness in this film, and we, the viewers, are richer for it.
A River Runs Through It is as close to perfection as I have seen in translating a beloved work of letters onto the cinematic screen. Does it have its flaws? I'm sure it does, and there are other reviews here that will point them out for you if you care. For my part, I wish only to say that this is a story about love, crafted by Maclean with love, and now adapted to the screen by Redford with a care that speaks of love - love of the subject matter and the written words. Macleans last words in the novella (and the movie) are "I am haunted by waters." Thanks to his words, and Redfords faithful adaptation of them, I too am haunted.