The movie "A River Runs Through It" made some massive changes in Montana, but the novella of the same name remains a timeless classic, as graceful as well-cast fly line.

On Friday, about three dozen writers, professors, disc jockeys and scientists took turns reading Norman Maclean's semi-autobiographical words of love and fishing and the love of fishing.

The cast of the daylong event at the Leaf and Bean was an eclectic one. It included Vann Gravage, the Livingston youth who played young Maclean in the 1992 movie, Montana State University philosophy professor Gordon Brittan, actress Margot Kidder, Turner Endangered Species Fund Executive Director Mike Phillips, and Dennis Aig, who worked on the movie and produced a documentary about how it was made.

The film had big impacts on Montana, its rivers and fly fishing, Aig said.

"It changed everything, and not intentionally, either," Aig said in an interview.

The movie was a hit and it generated all sorts of glowing publicity about Montana and fly fishing.

Real estate prices shot up, rivers got crowded and traffic got busier. It also helped launch Montana's fledgling film industry.

Nobody expected the movie to be as popular as it was, Aig said. Most of the performers weren't well known at the time, but the movie propelled actor Brad Pitt to superstar status.

And it was so beautifully filmed that it drew hordes of people to the state, graphite rod in hand.

Robert Redford directed and coproduced the film. Aig said Redford told him a couple years after the 1992 release that if he had known the movie would result in increased pressure on rivers he might never have made it.

The movie was filmed in the Bozeman/Livingston area because the Blackfoot River, the setting of the book and the film, had become too polluted by then.

Redford said in a 1991 interview with the Chronicle that he hoped the movie would spur people to protect rivers.

Friday's event was held to celebrate the Gallatin River, said Rob Ament, executive director of American Wildlands, the sponsor of four days of artistic, recreational and literary events focusing on the Gallatin.

"Quite often we fail to take the time to appreciate a river like the Gallatin, a river that runs through all our lives," Ament said.

Maclean's book told the story of two brothers growing up in Missoula in the 1920s, a time before catch-and-release.

The section read by Phillips illustrated the relative innocence of the day.

Maclean and his brother, Paul, had stashed some beer in the river's cold water, Phillips read. When they returned several hours later, they were actually surprised to learn that someone had stolen it.

Montana Public Radio recorded the readings for selected replay at a later date.