Monday, March 22, 2010

Big River Man - Martin Strel

Yesterday I went to see an interesting little film, Big River Man, about one of the most incredible Slovenians to ever live, Martin Strel, endurance swimmer. To date, Martin has swum the length of the Danube, the Mississippi, the Yangtze, and most recently the Amazon. And he has done this all after the age of 45.

I must warn you that, while the film has a fascinating subject, it is deeply deeply flawed. The basic construction of the film is choppy and shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the main characters -- Martin and his son/trainer, Borut -- and instead of trying to work through that misunderstanding it decides to make a mockery of them and Slovenia and geez, almost anyone. There is almost no one in this film who doesn't come out looking like a bumbling idiot. The filmmakers asking/allowing Martin's (none too bright) son to narrate the film was also a big mistake, not only was Borut uncharismatic as a narrator, but frankly I have to say that unless a Slovenian person knows English really really well, their personalities just don't come through and they just sound robotic and well...Borat-y. I think the producers would have done well to hire a interpreter and let Martin and Borut speak Slovenian for most of the film, they probably would have talked more and said more interesting/coherent things. Most glaringly, there were such gaping narrative holes in the movie, that Strel himself would probably find it daunting to get across. That said, the reason why I still recommend Big River Man is because of the glorious images of what this story is simply about: Martin swimming.

The footage of him floating, gliding, stretching, and splashing himself down the Amazon in absolutely beautiful. While on dry land, his massive body (the result of bad food and hard drinking) moves ungracefully and somewhat aimlessly; in the water he is at home, the weight of the world -- his troubled past and uncertain future -- is lifted, and he is pure poetry, understandable in any language. Pick it up if you can, and let me know what you think!


amanda said...

Loved it!

Dre said...


What the heck are you doing over there? If anything I would have thought you would have moved to France. Well at any rate, it makes for an awesome blog. I just hope you don't try to swim muddy rivers powered off horse burgers too.

Stay safe!

Camille Acey said...

hello Dre, thanks for reading! i don't think i would ever live in France. beautiful country, but it doesn't interest me in the least.

Ateistek said...

@Dre: Feeling quite superior, huh? Why should France be better than Slovenia? And your reaction comes after a post, that has nothing to do with France. Weird. People like you are unfortunately everywhere, who look down on us, feel superior and mighty, just because they come from a big urbanized country. But that doesn't make you any better or worse than us. Yeah, maybe it's hard for a foreigner to live here, not everything is perfect. But is it in your country? I doubt so. You have to outweigh the good from the bad and Slovenia is still not so bad after all. There's far more worse places to choose to live. Maybe you should first visit France AND Slovenia and then pass your judgement, at least I'd respect your opinion more. But now you just sound a bit arrogant. That's all.


Camille Acey said...

@Ateistek - Po mojem mnenju, mi je cist v redu ce taki ljudi ne pridejo sploh. Lahko uzivamo v miru, a ne? Ce ugotovijo kako je Slovenia lepa drzava, bo guzva zares. Naj ostanejo doma! ;)

Dre said...


I apologize for coming off as some sort of arrogant French snob, although that simply isn't the case. Camille had a passion for learning the French language growing up, hence my assumption.

For someone as brilliant as Camille to endure such blatant hardship and racism in the pursuit of God knows what is baffling. Do I have a superiority complex, no. Am I jealous that I missed the opportunity to be part of her life because of my immaturity, definitely.

You know, no one has ever taken me to task for something I said and ended it with cheers, I found that rather pleasant.


Camille, I couldn't forget about you but I see that I'm probably nothing but trouble. I have the utmost respect for you though and wish you true happiness.

This is my last comment but I will continue to read your blog and look forward to updates.

Au plaisir de vous revoir.

Camille Acey said...


Did we go to school together? Forgive me for forgetting you. Please jog my memory!