River to the Heart
Former St. Louisan Eddy L. Harris is the author of the lauded travel book “Mississippi Solo” (1988), which chronicled his canoe trip down the length of the Mississippi River, from its headwaters in Minnesota to its terminus in the Gulf of Mexico. In “River to the Heart,” Harris retraces that journey as a 60-year-old, and the film explores what he discovered about both the country that was and the country that is. As he paddles the long miles, Harris contemplates the meaning of the river to the country and to the people who populate it. In the process, he meets and interviews representative folks along the way and tackles a wide range of topics: the racial and economic divide in the U.S., environmental concerns (particularly man’s efforts to control the river and the unexpected results), the emptying out of small-town America, the disconnect between urban dwellers (especially African Americans like Harris) and nature, and the outsized shadow that Mark Twain casts over our thoughts on the river. Harris proves a highly personable and informative guide, and St. Louis is one of the prominent stops along his journey.