A River Runs Through It

A River Runs Through It Information

A River Runs Through It is a 1992 American film directed by Robert Redford and starring Craig Sheffer, Brad Pitt, Tom Skerritt, Brenda Blethyn, and Emily Lloyd. It is a period drama based on the semi-autobiographical novella A River Runs Through It (1976) written by Norman Maclean (1902"90), adapted for the screen by Richard Friedenberg.

Set in and around the city of Missoula in western Montana, the story follows two sons of a Presbyterian minister—one studious and the other rebellious—as they grow up and come of age in a time that roughly spans the Prohibition era (1919"33) in the United States: from World War I (1917"18) to the early days of the Great Depression (1929"41).

The film won an Academy Award for Best Cinematography in 1993 and was nominated for two other Oscars, for Best Music, Original Score and Best Adapted Screenplay. The film grossed $43,440,294 in US domestic returns.

Plot synopsis

The film tells the true story of two young men, Norman (Craig Sheffer) and Paul (Brad Pitt), growing up in 1920s Missoula, Montana under the watchful eye of their father, a Presbyterian minister. Their mornings are spent in school and religious study, while their afternoons are devoted to fly fishing in the nearby Blackfoot River. At home, however, the family's stoic emotions hint that trouble is to come. Norman goes to the east coast for college and lives there for six years, without returning home until then. In the meantime, Paul gets a job as a journalist and makes a name for himself back home. The movie is about Norman's return home and his and Paul's summer together.

As an adult, Paul is a rebellious journalist and Norman is a level-headed, grounded teacher. Norman matures and channels his rebellion through his writing while dating Jessie Burns, while Paul turns to gambling and liquor. The film chronicles their intertwining and often conflicting lives, focusing on Norman's point of view, as they grow up in the shadow of their minister father. A great deal of the film surrounds the men's love of fly fishing for trout in Montana's rivers, and their shared experiences of it while growing up.


  • Craig Sheffer as Norman Maclean
  • Brad Pitt as Paul Maclean
  • Tom Skerritt as Reverend Maclean
  • Brenda Blethyn as Mrs. Maclean
  • Emily Lloyd as Jessie Burns
  • Edie McClurg as Mrs. Burns
  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Young Norman
  • Vann Gravage as Young Paul Maclean
  • Nicole Burdette as Mabel
  • Michael Cudlitz as Chub
  • Buck Simmonds as Humph
  • Stephen Shellen as Neal Burns



Although both the book and movie are set in Missoula and on the Blackfoot River, it was filmed in 1991 in south central Montana in Livingston and Bozeman, and on the nearby upper Yellowstone, Gallatin, and Boulder Rivers. The waterfall shown is Granite Falls in Wyoming. The church scenes were filmed in the Redeemer Lutheran Church in Livingston.

An article published in the Helena Independent Record in July 2000 and based on recollections of people who knew both brothers noted a number of specifics about the Macleans "? notably various chronological and educational details about Paul Maclean's adult life "? that differ somewhat from their portrayal in the film and novella.


Mark Isham, who would go on to compose the scores to many Robert Redford-directed films, composed the musical score for the film. Originally, Elmer Bernstein was hired to score the film. However, after Redford and Bernstein disagreed over the tone of the music, Bernstein was replaced by Isham. Rushed for time, Isham completed the score within four weeks at Schnee Studio of Signet Sound Studios in Hollywood, CA. Upon release, the music was met with positive reviews earning the film both nominations for Grammy and Academy awards. The A River Runs Through It (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) was released on October 27, 1992.

In some home video releases of the film, Elmer Bernstein is credited as the film's composer despite his score being rejected during post-production.


Critical reception

Released on October 9, 1992, the film grossed $43,440,294 in US domestic returns. The film achieved an enthusiastic response from critics and currently holds an 83% "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes.com based on all polled critical reviews. A lot of the praise focused on Brad Pitt's portrayal of Paul, which has been cited as his career making performance.


The film was nominated for three Academy Awards in 1993, including Best Cinematography (Philippe Rousselot); Best Music, Original Score (Mark Isham); and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium (Richard Friedenberg). Rousselot won for Best Cinematography. At the Golden Globes, Robert Redford was nominated for Best Director - Motion Picture, but did not win.

This webpage uses material from the Wikipedia article "A_River_Runs_Through_It_%28film%29" and is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. Reality TV World is not responsible for any errors or omissions the Wikipedia article may contain.



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