Intent on seeing the Cahulawassee River before it's turned into one huge lake, outdoor fanatic Lewis Medlock takes his friends on a river-rafting trip they'll never forget into the dangerous American back-country.
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The Cahulawassee River valley in Northern Georgia is one of the last natural pristine areas of the state, which will soon change with the imminent building of a dam on the river, which in turn will flood much of the surrounding land. As such, four Atlanta city slickers - alpha male Lewis Medlock, generally even-keeled Ed Gentry, slightly condescending Bobby Trippe, and wide-eyed Drew Ballinger - decide to take a multi-day canoe trip on the river, with only Lewis and Ed having experience in outdoor life. They know going in that the area is ethno-culturally homogeneous and isolated, but don't understand the full extent of such until they arrive and see what they believe is the result of generations of inbreeding. Their relatively peaceful trip takes a turn for the worse when half way through they encounter a couple of hillbilly moonshiners. That encounter not only makes the four battle their way out of the valley intact and alive, but threatens the relationships of the four as they do ... Written by
Ned Beatty was the only one of the four main actors to ever have paddled a canoe prior to shooting the movie, which is ironic since his character is the most inept and clumsy. The others learned on set. See more »
During the drive to the river near the start of the film, the reflections of the trees etc. can be seen in the windscreen - but this should have been blocked by the canoes on the roof (and indeed they are in the long shots of the same journey) See more »
You w- you wanna... you wanna talk about the vanishing wilderness?
Lewis, listen - what are you so anxious about this?
Because they're buildin' a dam across the Cahulawassee River; they're gonna flood a whole valley, Bobby, that's why. Dammit, they're drownin' a river; they're drownin' a river, man.
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In the opening credits there is an obvious typo. About the main song first is written: "'Duelling Banjos' Arranged and played by Eric Weissberg with Steve Mandel". Right after that follows "The song 'Dueling Banjos' is an arrangement of the song 'Feudin' Banjos', copyright owner - Combine Music Corp." See more »
Unlike many other films, which are disturbing either by dint of their naked unpleasantness (Man Bites Dog) or their sheer violence (most Peckinpah films), Deliverance shocks by its plausibility. Certainly, the buggery scene is pretty straightforward in its unpleasantness, but the film's effect derives far more from its slow build-up and the tangible sense of isolation surrounding the four leads, both before and after everything starts to go wrong. The moment when the canoes pass under the child on the bridge, who does not even acknowledge the men he had earlier played music with, let alone show any sign of human affection towards them, is among the most sinister in modern film. The tension increases steadily throughout the canoe trip, and perseveres even after the final credits - the ending makes the significance of the characters' ordeals horrifically real. The movie's plausibility is greatly aided by the playing of the leads, particularly Ned Beatty and Jon Voight as the victim and reluctant hero respectively. Burt Reynolds, too, has never been better. The film's cultural influence is demonstrable by the number of people who will understand a reference to 'banjo territory' - perhaps only Get Carter has done such an effective hatchet-job on a region's tourist industry. I can think of only a handful of movies which put me into such a serious depression after they had finished - the oppressive atmosphere of Se7en is the best comparison I can think of. Although so much of it is excellent of itself, Deliverance is a classic above all because there are no adequate points of comparison with it - it is unique.
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