"The Same River Twice"
In 1968 the American tribal love-rock musical "Hair" shocked the world with nudity on stage and a casual disregard for the rules and customs of the day. Ten years later, Robb Moss filmed a short documentary called "Riverdogs", about a group of Colorado River guides on a month-long vacation. They lived their lives with that same casual disregard for rules -- and viewed nudity as a natural state to be enjoyed whenever possible.
Now comes Moss to follow up with five of his old friends and see how they have progressed into the middle ages. In "The Same River Twice" Moss takes clips of modern Baby Boomer lives -- some with spouses and kids, others with divorce or disease –- and interweaves them with the original footage of the beautiful and athletic twenty-somethings of two decades earlier. A bit chagrined, perhaps, at their earlier brashness and openness, they still look wistfully at visions of their youth.
Twenty years earlier, they explain, they were only doing what came naturally. For example, it was natural for the guys to grow beards – you had to have a reason to shave them off. Likewise, both the guys and the gals had to have a reason to wear their shorts. The natural state was to go without. And as we see, neither shooting the rapids nor mountain climbing were reason enough, much less hanging out in camp. Wearing only long hair, beads, and suntan lotion, their joyful exuberance shines through, infusing a relaxed and happy state through it all.
As all Boomers know, though, our choices change over time. Most of the guides are solid citizens now, active in their communities, raising kids, and trying to set good examples for all. What is natural now is to avoid discussions of youthful indiscretions with your kids. How can you still be a role model, after you’ve done so many dangerous things? Memories of old thrills change to thoughts of “Do as I say, not as I did.”
And yet, you can certainly see them almost wanting to go back to those older days. In the original film, one of the guides was encouraging them all to break camp early and return to civilization. Watching that clip now, he asks “Can I change my vote?”
None of us can go back again, of course, but we can happily recall the good times as often as we wish. "The Same River Twice" provides beautiful images of long ago and helps frame the questions to be asking ourselves today.
This award-winning documentary was a hit at the Sundance Film Festival and many others. Recently released on DVD, it should be required viewing for Boomers who cherish memories of their youth, as well as for those who seek to live meaningful lives today. Hopefully, you fit in both of those categories.
Buy the video at www.samerivertwice.com. Enjoy!