DVD Talk
Release List Reviews Shop Newsletter Forum DVD Giveaways Blu-Ray Advertise
Reviews & Columns
Reviews
DVD
TV on DVD
Blu-ray
International DVDs
Theatrical
Adult
Video Games

Features
Collector Series DVDs
Easter Egg Database
Interviews
DVD Talk Radio
Feature Articles

Columns
Anime Talk
XCritic.com
DVD Stalk
DVD Savant
High-Def Revolution
Silent DVD

discussion forum
DVD Talk Forum
Resources
DVD Price Search
Customer Service #'s
RCE Info
Links

DVDTalk Info
Review Staff
About DVD Talk
Advertise
Newsletter Subscribe
Join DVD Talk Forum
DVD Talk Feeds


Special Offer

Search: For:
Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » The Same River Twice
The Same River Twice
New Video // Unrated // February 22, 2005
List Price: $26.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Holly E. Ordway | posted February 27, 2005 | E-mail the Author
Buy from Amazon.com
C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Rent It
E - M A I L
this review to a friend
P R I N T
Printer Friendly
The movie

The Same River Twice is not the film that I'd like it to be, nor, I think, the film that it could have or should have been. The premise is excellent, without a doubt. In 1978, an aspiring filmmaker named Rob Moss went on a month-long river trip with a group of friends, all of them full of youthful enthusiasm and a willingness to defy the norms of society (for instance, they spend most of the time in the nude). Twenty years later, Moss revisited the lives and homes of his friends, revealing just how radically they had changed, and how much they had accepted the default "middle-class lifestyle."

The possibilities inherent in that comparison are abundant. How did they change so much? Did they intend for things to turn out as they did? Do they have regrets about the choices they made? Do they still have the same ideals as their live-in-the-moment past selves, or did their desires and vision of the world change as the years passed? Could the experience be recaptured, or experienced again by a new set of young adults, or has the moment for that kind of counter-culture experience truly passed?

They're intriguing questions, to be sure. Unfortunately, The Same River Twice doesn't make any effort to bring up any interesting questions, much less look for interesting answers. The film is made up of cuts between the footage of the original river trip, showing the participants discussing their plans, riding the rapids, climbing rocks, and just in general hanging out, and footage of the present-day people in their homes, playing with their children, talking, and looking at the original tape. There's no overall narration giving Moss' thoughts on the subject, but neither is there much insight from the interview subjects. A few of them offer some superficial comments on the differences between then and now, but there's nothing that the viewer couldn't put together independently. Moss clearly didn't spend any time drawing out his friends into any more thoughtful responses.

What it all may come down to is whether or not you're an enthusiast of "fly on the wall" documentaries, in which the filmmaker simply wanders around with a camera capturing (presumably) interesting material and lets the audience make of it what they will. I don't care for this style, as I think it's a bit of a cop-out, allowing the filmmaker to take an easy "out" from discovering meaning, connections, or insights in the material. The Same River Twice may in fact speak profoundly to some viewers, if it happens to hit the right notes or call up the right associations. But if that happens, it's largely fortuitous; the film certainly doesn't invite us to go any deeper into the material.

The one interesting observation that I took away from the film's 1978 footage was that nudity really is only dramatic or shocking when it's treated that way. The first time we see the various participants in the river trip standing around their camp stark naked, nonchalantly chatting about their plans for the afternoon, it's admittedly a bit striking. But they're clearly not paying any attention to it, and soon enough it's easy to say "What's the big deal?" It's a perspective that I wish more people could grasp, so that the sight of a single breast wouldn't be national news or sufficient cause to rate a movie R. This train of thought isn't really all that relevant to where The Same River Twice appears to be headed, but it's no big surprise that if a film doesn't provide a direction for viewers, they'll probably head off on a tangent (or turn off the program entirely).

The DVD

Video

The Same River Twice appears in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1. The home-video footage from 1978 is, of course, rather worn and grainy, as we'd expect it to be. The 1998 footage is reasonably clear and bright, with decent-looking colors. It's watchable.

Audio

The Dolby 2.0 soundtrack is adequate, with the participants' voices generally coming across in a clear and natural-sounding manner. Parts of it have a flatter or more muffled quality, but overall it's acceptable.

Extras

Several interesting-looking extras are included, but unfortunately they don't amount to much. The audio commentary track by director Rob Moss is a bit of a disappointment; there's lots of empty air time, and the comments he does make don't offer all that much insight into the film.

An 18-minute question-and-answer session with Moss has more substance to it. Text biographies of the filmmaker and crew are included, as well as a trailer for the film.

Final thoughts

If the topic sounds fascinating to you, it might be worth checking out The Same River Twice as a rental, but overall I found it a disappointing handling of what sounds like a very interesting idea. Rent it.

Popular Reviews
1. Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Turkey Day Collection
2. The Bubble aka Fantastic Invasion of Planet Earth (3-D)
3. Batman The Complete TV Series Limited Edition Blu-ray
4. Seven Wonders of the World
5. Drunk History Seasons 1 and 2
6. Daniel Boone - The Complete Series: The Fiftieth Anniversary
7. The Killer Elite (1975)
8. Sam Whiskey
9. Mister Ed: The Complete Series
10. Lord Of Illusions


Special Offers
DVD Blowouts
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
Alien [Blu-ray]
Buy: $19.99 $9.99
8.
9.
10.
Special Offers
Release List Reviews Shop Newsletter Forum DVD Giveaways Blu-Ray Advertise
Copyright 2014 DVDTalk.com All Rights Reserved. Legal Info, Privacy Policy, Terms of Use