Big River Man

2009 documentary

Rating: 17/20 (Dylan: 20/20)

Plot: Fifty-four year old Slovenian national hero Martin Strel has swum the Danube. He's swum the Yangtze. And he's swum the Mighty Mississippi. Now it's the Amazon's turn. This documentary covers his 66-day swim of the almost 33,000 mile river with the help of two bottles of wine a day and a funky mask. Along the way, he loses his mind and enters the 4th dimension.

I learned a lot about Slovenia from watching Big River Man. They enjoy horse burgers there. Horse burgers are a little like chicken burgers but made from horse. Slovenia itself is shaped like a chicken. Slovenia is the DUI capital of the world. There's a "Learn the English Language" recording that teaches Slovenians to say "I am a drug dealer." This is a documentary you'll watch and wonder if it's real or not. Strel seems fatter than life, and the film just seems too funny to be legitimate. In fact, Dylan and I stopped watching this to do a little research and found out that the guy is real and has completed these amazing swims. He's just got more than the average amount of crazy, the type of fellow that Werner Herzog wouldn't mind following around with a camera for a while. This documentary blends hilarity and adventure so well. You get the impression that Strel's navigator, a guy with no real training in navigation, and Strel himself are hamming it up a little for the camera as they gradually lose their minds, but there's something eerie as well as hilarious in the way the swimmer's mind is completely gone in the last stages of his Amazonian swim and in the time following the feat. I still have no idea what he was talking about when he claimed he had entered and was stuck in the fourth dimension, and there are great scenes where he fashions a goofy mask to protect the skin of his face from the sun, runs off with his navigator and is later found naked and unresponsive on a beach, smears mayonnaise on his head and tries to use jumper cables to electrocute parasites that have attempted to burrow into his skull. He also references an Amazonian penis fish that enters the body via the urethra. And when they do, according to Strel, "no more penis." This is an adventurous journey into dementia with some nice hippie environmental messages built in, and it's one of the most bitchin' documentaries I've seen in a long time.


l@rstonovich said...

Never heard of this one but sounds incredible!

l@rstonovich said...

Finally saw this and it was as great as you made it sound. When the navigator lost it I can see why you'd have to stop and see if it was real, it suddenly got mockumentary. But it was real enough. Loved it.