If I didn’t dislike Redford’s politics so much, this would be my favorite movie of all time. I have tried to disassociate the movie from the men, and the screeplay from the story.
When I lived in Bozeman, Montana, I met some of the folks who worked behind the scenes and visited shooting locations. I tried to imagine the Rev. Maclean preaching behind the same pulpit at First Presbyterian Church in Bozeman many years ago.
We only have one chance to make a first impression. My first impression of A River Runs Through It originated in the movie, not the story. I visualize an actor, not a writer and professor. I see the Gallatin River, not the Big Blackfoot. I see Hollywood under the Big Sky.
I have the opposite experience with Maclean’s also excellent book Young Men and Fire. A friend who had visited Seeley Lake told me about the event and recommended the read. I have yet to visit Mann Gulch myself. Yet I can visualize the location in my mind like I lived there.
Someday somebody will put this story on film. There’s a script in circulation. They will probably shoot in Canada or Southern California because they have no respect for the role of Place in our lives. The images will blur, but not for me. And not for you if you go read the book now.
Friends don’t let friends see movies before they’ve read the book.