In February 2007 Martin Strel began an insane attempt to be the first person to swim the entire length of the world’s most dangerous river, the Amazon. The Fish Man, as he was called by the local tribes, almost died in the process several times. Towards the end of his marathon ordeal his blood pressure was at heart attack level, his entire body full of subcutaneous larvae and besieged by dehydration, diarrhea and exhaustion.
Martin is an endurance swimmer who swims rivers – the Mississippi, the Danube and the Yangtze prior to the Amazon – to highlight their pollution to the world. Martin is also a rather overweight horse‐burger loving Slovenian in his fifties, who drinks two bottles of red wine a day… even when swimming.
During this epic journey he suffered from blisters, sunburn, exotic stomach illnesses, all the while trying to avoid piranhas, anacondas, crocodiles, alligators, river sharks, and a small parasitic fish known as the candiru, which when attracted by the smell of urine, swims up the penis where it releases razor‐sharp barbed spines. It can only be removed by surgery…
Director John Maringouin set out to make an environmentally aware documentary about an eccentric, larger‐than‐life Slovenian swimmer. He ended up journeying deep into the oppressively remote Amazonia, following Martin and his team into their own Heart Of Darkness as they descend into a nightmare of illness and insanity.
More eccentric that Grizzly Man, more physically demanding than Supersize Me and more human than An Inconvenient Truth, Big River Man is a laugh out loud documentary and a serious message to the world.