Blu-ray Review: The River (1984)

The River was the third of the so-called “save the farm” movies of 1984-85. Like Places in the Heart and Country we are treated to a gutsy, young farm family who come together to keep their land in the face of attacks from mother nature and the local bank that refuses to help them.

Directed by Mark Rydell (On Golden Pond), the setting is the Tennessee River valley. Sissy Spacek and Mel Gibson star as farmers threatened by regular flooding, a greedy banker and an entrepreneurial real estate developer who wants to use the farmland for a hydroelectric power plant that will rejuvenate the valley.

Scott Glenn plays the developer. He and Spacek are former lovers, but obviously she married Mel Gibson. Of course, the script makes a lot out of Glenn representing big business, but what does he want to do that’s really wrong? The land is constantly flooding. Sure, we’re sorry this land has been in Spacek’s family for years and may be lost to her, but by selling out to Glenn for a decent price, she may be able to buy a more verdant farm nearby.

And so, with its faulty logic The River becomes little more than some impressive shots by cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond. It’s never a good sign when then the villain comes across as the smart one, but throughout the film Mel Gibson comes across as a stubborn and not much else.

Presented in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, Kino Lorber has provided a terrific 1080p transfer. The varied color palette looks wonderful throughout. This high definition scan highlights Vilmos Zsigmond’s beautiful cinematography. The image itself is remarkably free from debris.

The DTS-HD MA 2.0 soundtrack provides a pleasing experience for the dialogue heavy film. Atmospherics are distinct throughout. Distortions are minimal, allowing no hisses, snaps, crackles, or pops.

English SDH subtitles are included.

The following extras are available:

  • Audio Commentary with Filmmaker and Historian Daniel Kremer
  • Theatrical Trailer


The River (1984)
River (1984)

Movie title: The River (1984)

Country: USA

Duration: 124 min

Director(s): Mark Rydell

Actor(s): Sissy Spacek, Mel Gibson , Scott Glenn, Shane Bailey, Billy Green Bush, James Tolkan

Genre: Drama

  • Movie
    (2.5)
  • Video
    (4.5)
  • Audio
    (4)
  • Extras
    (1.5)
3.1