A River Runs Through It1

The movie, A River Runs Through It, directed by Robert Redford, and starring Craig Sheffer as Norman and Brad Pitt as Paul the younger brother, is about two brothers that have a close relationship. As their growing up they both rebel against their stern minister father, each in their own way. This movie takes place in the entrancing mountains of Montana, with a magnificent river that runs through it. The bond between the boys starts to fall apart as they face their future both taking two very different roads. The director effectively uses shots, action and mise en scene to show the directions both boys have chosen to take.

In the middle of the clip where the boys are carrying the boat to the river, shots are used to show which direction the brothers have chose to take. The close up shot of Paul smiling shows a very eager person. Paul is in the front of the boat showing the viewer that he is leading the way. Norman on the other hand, is becoming aggravated by Pauls anticipation for trying this brainless stunt. The close up of Norman portrays to the viewer that he is not sharing the same feeling as Paul and is wondering how he is going to get out of shooting the chutes. Later in the scene, there is a close up shot of Paul standing in front of the river and all the viewer can see behind Paul is the water. This symbolizes to the viewer that Paul has become one with the water. The viewer at this point knows that Paul is actually going to go through with this reckless idea. After, the McLain brothers go over the chutes and are safely on shore, the director shoots a close up shot of Norman siting on a hill away from the water. In this close up of Norman the viewer can not see his face it is absent of light showing the viewer that Norman is very different than Paul. All the viewer can see behind this shot of Norman is the sky, symbolizing that Norman wants to go out in to the world and not to recklessly throw his life away. As with shots, action is directed in this clip to show the viewer the uniquely different directions in life the brothers choose.

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Normans actions seem to be enjoying the boat ride, when Paul and Norman are in the boat and the water is calm. Normans actions here show the viewer that he likes life at a calm and soothing flow. As the water becomes rougher Norman starts to pull back on his oar trying to slow the boat down. The viewer can see that he is trying to keep the boat from getting closer to the falls. Paul is laughing and paddling faster. His actions show that he is not concerned whether he lives or dies. The action of the dangerous waters roaring over the cliff resembles the life Paul has chose to live. Norman is found at the top of the hill after going over the cliff, his action show the viewer that he has distanced himself away from Paul and has chosen to go out into the world and live a safe life. Not only were shots and action used to show the different paths in life the boys chose to take; mise en scene also played an important part in accomplishing this task.

The mise en scene shows the brothers futures unfolding to the viewer in the first scene. The Mclain brothers are close, the viewer can tell because the brothers share the same friends and enjoy being together. The viewer can tell that Norman and Paul are both starting to rebel against their father, because they are both out drinking, going against their parents rules. In this first scene the brothers are out drinking with their friends. All the boys including Norman are sitting on the car. This shows the viewer that Norman likes to be part of the group. Paul is sitting on the ground with his back toward the viewer. The viewer does not even acknowledge Paul. The mise en scene portrays Paul as being separated from


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