A River Runs Through It, the movie that catapulted fly fishing to a wider audience
It?s been a quarter of a century since Robert Redford?s film of ?A River Runs Through It?. It was the movie that saw Brad Pitt fly casting in Montana rivers and placing the art and magic of fly fishing into the American (and wider) public consciousness for arguably the first time.
It was based of course on Norman Maclean?s 1976 classic book of the same name but it wasn?t until Brad Pitt emerged from the river bank with trout rod and creel in tow that the public at large got some appreciation for what fly fishing was all about.
It took the cinema to paint the picture; to show off the allure, romanticism and beauty of fly fishing in all its unique tapestry. From the hard-fighting fish to the boulder strewn rivers and slow-motion majesty of fly-casting, ?A River Runs Through It? captured fly fishing in its moment.
In the aftermath of course interest in the sport surged. Men wanted to be like Brad Pitt, women wanted to be with him and fly fishing was the sport de rigueur.
After twenty years, how has the sport held up after the initial surge? There was a return to normalcy afterwards of course, but the sport has also moved on from the vision of fly fishing as sedate and old-fashioned.
It?s no longer about creels or days of slow enjoyment. Whilst keeping the heart of the sport close to hand, the new breed of fly fishers see themselves more akin to adventure sport enthusiasts. Snow boarding and surfing are the role models for a sport that espouses the adventure, the risk, the extreme more and more.
But A River Runs Through It, still has its place, and the book especially so. It?s about a story of people and place, of coming to terms with who we are and where our place in the world is.
As Maclean writes,
?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.?
?I am haunted by waters?. It is what I want on my tombstone. All anglers are haunted by waters in some way. That is the beauty and eloquence of Maclean?s words and Redford?s film and something we will be remembering in another quarter of a century.