Published Dec 7. 2012 - 11 years ago
Updated or edited Aug 17. 2020

Video review: Only the River Knows

A Fly Fishing Tragedy

A truly different - and truly epic - fly-fishing DVD, which is very different from most fly-fishing DVDs inasmuch as it has a story, a narrative. The story of two Scandinavian anglers fishing in New Zealand and getting lost, only to find a desolated cabin and a diary left behind, written by a third Scandinavian angler. The diary possesses especially one of the anglers who relives the story in the booklet and seeks out the author. Funny, entertaining, beautiful... different.

Peter A Christensen, Rolf Nylinder, Mathis Eskjaer
Kokkaffe Conglomerate
Publishing year: 

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I have no idea why this DVD has the subtitle "A Fly Fishing Tragedy". It's not a tragedy. It's a celebration!
A celebration of New Zealand.
A celebration of friends going fishing.
A celebration of the obsession with fly-fishing.
A celebration of loosing your wits and finding them again.
And not least a celebration of the fly-fishing film.
No, there are only a few tragic elements in the film, and even they aren't particularly tragic, but actually quite funny.
Come to think of it, fun is a major part of this fly-fishing film, and when I was seeing it at a sneak preview in Copenhagen there were laughs all around. And many and heartfelt, which is a rare thing in fly-fishing films. And not only were there laughs, but the audience seemed to truly enjoy themselves all the way through the 80 plus minutes, even though a large part looked to be non-fishing - both male and female.

This is in every way a very entertaining film.

A celebration of loosing your wits and finding them again.

It is a fly-fishing film, and does contain the type of footage we see in most fly-fishing films: beautiful water, nice casts, fish rising to a fly and the triumphant angler presenting and releasing his catch.
But it's not a how-to, that teaches you to fish. And it's not a where-to that tells you where to go to fish. It does mention locations and does show fishing, but for for informative purposes.

The fishing scenes are not only intertwined with a narrative, but also seem almost scripted - or as scripted as fishing scenes can be, taking into account the conditions, the fish and what else can wreak havoc on a well thought out story.
Because in the film there is a very well thought out storyline, and as we follow the main characters Swedish Rolf Nylinder and and Danish Peter Christensen, a story unfolds where these guys set on a journey that leads them from New Zealand to Norway and Australia and even the Cook Islands - all instigated by the entries they read in the diary, which they find in the cabin.
Rolf is in particular fascinated by the diary, bordering on obsessed, and drives the row of events ahead in a hectic tempo. But at the same time, as he reads passages of the text in the book, we get transported back in time and follow the writer's experiences in a series of calm and soothing and yet exciting scenes from back when he was fishing the same river as the two stranded guys are looking for. Rolf and Peter manage to experience the same calm and excitement as they get to fish the river and catch fish too.

The diary they find is written by Norwegian Lars Lenth, and many Scandinavians will recognize the style from the films made by him and his friend Bård Tufte Johansen - who both appear in the film. Lenth of course plays a major role in being the angler who has written the spellbinding text, but Bård Tufte Johansen also gets his part as he now lives in Lenth's old house where the two main characters go to seek out Lenth.

Only the River Knows - Snaps from the very well filmed and composed DVD
Snaps from the video
Kokkaffe Media/Peter Christensen

They manage to find Lenth in the end, and I will not spoil the experience by telling you how and under what circumstances, but just ensure you that it's hilarious - and that it also contains some great fishing scenes.

Altogether a very different fishing film, which as I said owes a lot the the Norwegian Lenth/Tufte tradition, but probably will be very new in style to most non-Scandinavian viewers. It's a very welcome addition to the fly-fishing film scene, being both epic, funny (hilarious at times) and technically very well made. It has enough nice fishing to satisfy you, and enough non-fishing to please friends and spouses who for once can sit down and watch a fly-fishing DVD together with you.
In spite of being made by Swedes, Norwegians and Danes, the film is almost entirely in English. For those who want a little language support, there are subtitles in Danish, Swedish, Norwegian and English too.

Truly Global Class and then some and warmly recommended.

PS: You can also watch the video online through a streaming service or download it. The price is 10 US$. See "Only the River Knows" online here.


Not watched the full...

Not watched the full movie, but the trailer looks amazing. Really good to see a fly fishing film which looks inspired. Well done on releasing it for $10 download. Just putting it on my Kindle fire now and will watch later when the kids are in bed and the house is quiet and I can savour the experience.

Absolutely super! Th...

Absolutely super! The download is a bargain at 10$. I now have the version saved on my media player and ready to play at the click of a button for a third of the price and hopefully all of that 10$ goes to the film makers without the need for distribution etc.

Martin Joergensen's picture

Roberto, I don't ...


I don't quite agree. As I see it the idea is not to show fishing, but to tell a story. There are plenty fish porn videos out there, and most NZ videos show you a ton of fishing, fights and large fish. Regarding the fishing, I have to disagree again. The guys fish way better than I would be able to under the same conditions. But that might be because I suck.

Regarding the talking... well, that's the whole idea! They talk. I personally find that one of the good things about this DVD, personal conversation, smalltalk and chat, and it's fun too. Tell me that you didn't laugh at "'s like jerking of..."!


I found the film fai...

I found the film fairly interesting in the parts shot professionally, quite deluding and boring those shot by the two guys. The story in itself is interesting: finding a diary in the middle of New Zealand wilderness, taking it to Norway and then back to Australia, but the two guys speak too much and fish little and when they fish.....they suck!!!
Lars, Mikkel and Bard are so damn cute!!!!


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