A River Runs Through It

A River Runs Through It quotes

24 total quotes (ID: 498)

"Black Jack's Bar"
"Dear Jessie."
"Double Dating"
"Last-Minute Attempt"
"Letter from Chicago"
"Minister & Fisherman"
"Paul's Fate"
"Return to Graciousness"
"Sending Neal Off"
"The Burns Family"
"Wrong Crowd"
Final scene: "A River Runs Through It"
Main cast
Opening scene: "Start"


After Norman gets his job offer letter from the University of Chicago, he goes into the house to find his father reading aloud in his study. Norman and Reverend John Maclean recite various excerpts strung together from the poem "Ode: Intimations of Immortality" by William Wordsworth: (Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting
The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star,)
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home.
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendor in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind;
In the primal sympathy
Which having been must ever be;
In the soothing thoughts that spring
Out of human suffering;
In the faith that looks through death,
Thanks to the human heart by which we live,
Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears,
To me the meanest flower that blows can give
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears."


Dear Jessie,
As the moon lingers a moment over the Bitterroot's, before its descent into the invisible, my mind is filled with song. I find I am humming, softly, not to the music, but to something else, some place else. A place remembered. A field of grass where no one seemed to have been, except the deer, and the memory is strengthened by the feeling of you, dancing in my awkward arms.
Norman
The Bitterroot's are in reference to the Bitterroot Mountains of Western Montana.

Like many fly fishermen in Western Montana where the summer days are almost Arctic in length, I often do not start fishing until the cool of the evening. Then in the Arctic half-light of the canyon, all existence fades to a being of my soul and memories and the sounds of the Big Blackfoot River and a four-count rhythm and the hope that a fish will rise.
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 those rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.
I am haunted by waters.

Jessie's mother asked Norman to take Neal fishing, the set a time for 6:00 AM on Friday, but Neal shows up, with "Old Rawhide" him, closer to midday. Paul and Norman are obviously furious: Norman Maclean: You're late, Neal.
Neal Burns: Yeah, yeah, I didn't get in until late.
Paul Maclean: Well, I didn't get in at all but I was here.
Norman Maclean: Neal, Paul. Paul, Neal.
Neal goes to introduce Rawhide: Paul and Norman [in uncaring unison]: We've met.
Paul Maclean: Neal, in Montana, there's three things we're never late for: church, work, and fishing.
After Paul goes off fishing by himself, he finds Norman napping alone in the afternoon shade by the bank of the river: Paul Maclean: Couldn't you find him?
Norman Maclean: The hell with him.
Paul Maclean: Well, I thought you were supposed to help him.
Norman Maclean: How the hell do you help that son of a bitch?
Paul Maclean: By taking him fishing.
Norman Maclean: He doesn't like fishing. He doesn't like Montana and he sure as hell doesn't like me.
Paul Maclean: Well, maybe what he likes is somebody trying to help him.
Paul and Norman go in search of Neal and Rawhide only to find them asleep on their stomachs in a small clearing, completely naked and sun burnt to a red crisp. Norman gets the sunburned Neal into the Burns family car to drive Neal home, and the looks at Paul: Norman Maclean: I'm in deep trouble.
Paul Maclean: Yep. Want me to come over and protect you?
Since Norman drove Neal home in the Burns car, he needs a ride home. Jessie gives a ride home and when the get there Paul arrives in his car. Paul Maclean: Hello, Jess.
Jessie Burns: Hey, Paul.
Paul Maclean: How's your brother?
Jessie Burns: You both left him alone.
Paul Maclean: Well, I'm sorry about that. That was my fault.
Jessie Burns: Well, you're not forgiven.
Paul Maclean: Was Norman forgiven?
Jessie Burns: Norman's not funny.

As a Presbyterian, my father believed that man by nature was a damn mess. And that only by picking up God's rhythms, were we able to regain power and beauty. To him, all good things, trout as well as eternal salvation come by Grace. And Grace comes by art. And art does not come easy.
Older Norman - [narrating]:

And I knew just as surely, just as clearly, that life is not a work of art, and that the moment could not last.
Older Norman - [narrating]:

It is those we live and love should know who elude us.

After Paul's death, the Reverend John Maclean searches for answers that he seems unable to find in his beliefs: Reverend Maclean: Is there anything else you can tell me?
Norman Maclean: Nearly all the bones in his hand were broken.
The Reverend Maclean rises from the table to leave, digesting what Norman has told him, then pauses and continues: Reverend Maclean: Which hand?
Norman Maclean: His right hand.
After some time has gone by: Older Norman - [narrating]:

First we see young Norman and Paul fishing, then older Norman remembering as he fishes alone: Older Norman - [narrating]:

As the film begins, we see the rippling water of a river, and then the hands of an old man tying a fly: Older Norman - [narrating]:

They're both marvelous.
He nodes and snickers, then continues: I'd say Lord has blessed us all today...
He rises and walks away and with his back to them continues: It's just that he has been particularly good to me.
He laughs.

As time passes, my father struggled for more to hold on to, asking me again and again: had I told him everything. And I finally said to him, "maybe all I know about Paul is that he was a fine fisherman." "You know more than that," my father said; "he was beautiful." And that was the last time we spoke of my brother's death.

From the scene "Double Dating": Norman Maclean:
My candle burns at both ends; it will not last the night. But ah my foes, and oh my friends - it gives a lovely light.

In my family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing.
We lived at the junction of great trout rivers in Missoula, Montana.
Where Indians still appeared out of the wilderness to walk the honky tonks and brothels of Front Street.

The Burns family ran a general store in a one store town and still managed to badly.
They were Methodist, a denomination my father always referred to as Baptist who could read.