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Review – Only the River Knows

Truth, lies and fishing


Only The River Knows (2012)


The Fly Fishing Channel

What’s it all about?

When a young Danish fly fisher, Rolf, and his friend get lost in the backcountry of New Zealand’s South Island they stumble upon an old fishing hut. The hut, as well as saving their lives, contains a journal, written by another fly fishermen who passed that way some 25 years before – the mysterious Lars. The discovery of the journal sparks and obsession in young Rolf, and so begins an adventure that spans continents, time, and the line between truth and fantasy.


Only The River Knows was directed by Peter Christensen. Peter also stars in the movie, playing himself. The film also features Rolf Nylinder as himself, Lars Lenth as himself and Bård Tufte Johansen as… himself.

Why do we like it?

The film, which was shot amid the stunning scenery of New Zealand’s South Island, is an exploration of the often blurred borderland between fact and fiction, and how the worlds of fishing and filmmaking inhabit this space.

As with many fishing films, the team producing the movie had to do so on a very tight budget, but rather than allowing this to inhibit their story-telling they instead use it to tell the story. When telling the present story of the two young trout bums, the film is in the form of a video-diary, all shaky hand-held camera work, close-up to-camera monologues and interviews conducted by the camera-man. We are even treated to an MTV Cribs style tour of the fishing cabin. However in the portrayal of the journal passages- the actual diary that is such a focus for the film – the filmmakers employ a far more cinematic style, neo-realistic almost; we observe from afar in a manner similar to that Rossellini.

In making the movie they both visually and through the storyline invite the audience to examine the often unusual relationship that anglers have with the truth – who among us can truly say that we’ve never exaggerated our fishing expertise?

Who’s this for?

Anyone who has had their tall tales called into question by disbelieving friends.

If you like this, you’l also like:

Yow! Icelandic for ‘Yes!’

TL:DR – Everyone lies about fishing


Watch the full movie here


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