A River Runs Through It

A River Runs Through ItStill of Tom Skerritt in A River Runs Through ItStill of Emily Lloyd and Craig Sheffer in A River Runs Through ItStill of Tom Skerritt in A River Runs Through It


Two fly-fishing sons of a Presbyterian minister–one reserved, one rebellious–grow up in rural Montana.

Release Year: 1992

Rating: 7.1/10 (24,347 voted)

Critic's Score: 68/100

Robert Redford

Stars: Craig Sheffer, Brad Pitt, Tom Skerritt

A true story about two boys, Norman and Paul, growing up in Montana. One is rebellious of his father, Rev. Maclean, while the other has his feet on the ground. The one love they both have is fly fishing.

Writers: Norman Maclean, Richard Friedenberg


Craig Sheffer

Norman Maclean

Brad Pitt

Paul Maclean

Tom Skerritt

Rev. Maclean

Brenda Blethyn

Mrs. Maclean

Emily Lloyd

Jessie Burns

Edie McClurg

Mrs. Burns

Stephen Shellen

Neal Burns

Vann Gravage

Young Paul

Nicole Burdette


Susan Traylor


Michael Cudlitz


Rob Cox


Buck Simmonds


Fred Oakland

Mr. Burns

David Creamer

Ken Burns

The Story of an American Family.

Release Date: 9 October 1992

Filming Locations: Bozeman, Montana, USA

Gross: $43,440,294

Technical Specs


Did You Know?


Norman Maclean often recounted the story of how his semi-autobiographical story collection was rejected by every large commercial publisher he sent it to, including one that rejected it on the basis that it contained "too many trees." It was eventually published instead by the University of Chicago Press (in 1976) and went on to sell extraordinarily well for them.


When leaving the gaming house, the car Norman is driving has the passenger side lamp out. After Paul talks to Norman and the camera pans back, the headlamp is back on.


[first lines]

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."

User Review

Montana only LOOKS!! Serene

Rating: 10/10

A stunning realization occurs when some sort of phenomenon takes
place!! Be it, firecrackers going off, witnessing a robbery, a
hurricane nonchalantly devastating everything in it's path, or, for
that matter, any other spectacular occurrence !! In the case of the
Maclean Family, however, reveille was something which was no more
complex than their day to day lives..Montana in the early twentieth
century was an environment which was rough and tumble…The Maclean
family was comprised of four people, the father, a minister, who was
ideologically driven to raise his family properly. His wife was God
fearing, and dutiful. The two boys were, well…BOYS!!.. What else can
you say?…Brad Pitt starred in this film before he was really THE!!
Brad Pitt, and his acting performance in this film was, to say the
least, remarkable!!!.. His brother, Norman, was the cerebral type, he
was touched by emotions that were genuine, and motivated by a set of
values that Missoula, Montana concurred with!! Paul (Brad Pitt) was a
misfit from the offset, and lived on the edge…You would think that
Montana in the 1920's had no such thing, yet somehow, gambling,
drinking, and violent confrontations, were as much a part of Paul, as
was his fly fishing rod!! Fly fishing!! Did I say that?
Parenthetically, this was the core of this movie's theme!! The
recreation of fly fishing served as the cohesive bond which homogenized
the kindred spirits of the Maclean brothers, and to a lesser degree,
the father!! I would describe the acting in this film as incredibly
believable, and the cinematography went beyond sensational.. Put it
this way, anyone who sees this film will want to live in Montana..
Breathtaking filmography of bluer than blue mountains and streams
captured the youth and effervescence that the Maclean brothers had for
life…Seldom in a film do you witness whereby feelings immediately
invoke a dogged tenacity to accomplish whatever it may be that someone
wishes to accomplish..The Maclean brothers lived life to the fullest,
and for better or worse, the father knew that this was going to be the
only way the two of them could become men!!…Robert Redford directs
this film, and tells the story of the Maclean's through the perspective
of the older brother, Norman…Norman gets offered a position at the
University of Chicago at age 26, and marries the woman he will always
be in love with…What this film also points out, is that the younger
brother, Paul, has attained an accomplishment of his own by being the
epitome of a remarkable fly fisherman!! The seedier side of life
prevails in the younger brother's existence, and exerts an insidious
form of consternation for the Maclean family!! As most human
shortcomings go, the Maclean family made light of turbulent waters,
(literally) and thus, established unity as a family, by putting
necessary blinders on!!!

The end of the movie "River Runs Through It" presents an epigram of
life through the eyes of the older brother.. For Norman Maclean,
stoicism is a prerequisite to perseverance in his emeritus years!! Such
a fate is largely due to the fact that reflecting on his life is
tantamount to yearning for people who have passed away! The fond
memories of his brother, his wife, his mother, and his father, must now
be viewed philosophically!! For Norman, his life has been relegated to
stubborn facts that have determined his dubious outlook, and precarious
resolve! Something as simple as the statement "This was your life, and
that is how you lived it" is a somber recollection of the joy, the
sorrow, the regrets, and the love, he gave, as well as was the
recipient of!! Best put in the last sermon he heard his father give,
his father said "We can completely love someone without completely
understanding them".. Whether you agree with what has happened in your
life or not, it happened nonetheless! Norman Maclean must come to grips
with the fact that his life has been fragmented by misunderstandings!
Norman Maclean has become a decrepit octogenarian who is polarized by
virtual conclusions to his life!! The murky waters of Montana's
picturesque rivers serve as a vicious and desultory finalization to his
years on earth!! Without question, the very prolific statement of "what
seems complicated is really very simple" purveys a very acrimonious
message in this movie…More simply put…The people and places which
were important in Norman's life, are now only a bittersweet
memory….merely a painfully intellectual rumination of events which
are aggravated by the haunted waters of Montana's beautiful streams and
rivers…To which, for the entire Maclean family, "all things merge
into one and a river runs through it"