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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.
This is without a doubt one of the best movies I have ever seen; a
account of a doomed canoe trip that will haunt your memory for years to
come. It is disheartening to read the number of negative reviews for this
excellent film, which I can only attribute to the one-dimensional nature
today's uber-blockbusters. It seems that the finer subtleties of good
filmmaking present in Deliverance are lost on today's generation of
moviegoers whose cinematic palates have been cloyed with
special effects, unimaginative dialogue, mindless violence and saccharine
plots. Every aspect of this movie has been wonderfully choreographed and
combine to create a film that goes well beyond mere entertainment,
simultaneously shocking and challenging the audience.
Everything that occurs in this movie serves a poignant purpose; the creators focus on quality rather than quantity. The plot, which seems simple enough, gradually takes on an eerily disturbing nature. The dialogue is sparse, but screenwriters and director use it as a strength, allowing events and cinematography to speak volumes about the characters. The violence, though disturbing, also acts as an integral piece of the film. The scenery is spectacular and Deliverance makes some of the best use of foreshadowing and silence I've ever seen in a movie.
Few movies leave such an impression on the viewer. To this day, I can't hear "Dueling Banjos"--or just about any banjo music for that matter--without thinking of this movie. Nor can I help but feel this movie doomed Ned Beatty's acting career (after seeing this film, every time you see Ned Beatty in any other role, you can't help but remember the infamous riverbank scene). Even people who have never seen the movie know the ghastly meaning of the words "squeal like a pig".
It is truly worth taking the time to see this film. It is an excellent treatise of the human reaction when challenged with fear, danger and adventure.
In what is arguably the best outdoor adventure film of all time, four
city guys confront nature's wrath, in a story of survival. The setting
is backwoods Georgia, with its forests, mountains, and wild rivers.
The director, John Boorman, chose to use local people, not actors, to portray secondary characters. These locals imbue the film with a depth of characterization unequaled in film history. No central casting "actors" could ever come close to these people's remarkable faces, voices, or actions. I don't recall a film wherein the secondary characters are so realistic and colorful. As much as anything else, it is this gritty realism that makes this film so amazing.
Another strength is the film's theme. Nature, in the wild, can be violent. How appropriate that the setting should be the American South. Very few places in the U.S. are, or have been, as violent as redneck country. In a story about Darwinian survival of the fittest, the film conveys the idea that humans are part of nature, not separate from it.
"Deliverance" is very much a product of its time when, unlike today, Americans expressed concern over a vanishing wilderness. The film's magnificent scenery, the sounds of birds, frogs, crickets, and the roar of the river rapids, combined with the absence of civilization, all convey an environmental message. And that is another strength of the film.
At an entertainment level, the tension gradually escalates, as the plot proceeds. Not even half way into the film the tension becomes extreme, and then never lets up, not until the final credits roll. Very few films can sustain that level of intensity over such a long span of plot.
Finally, the film's technical quality is topnotch. Direction and editing are flawless. Cinematography is excellent. Dialogue is interesting. And the acting is terrific. Burt Reynolds has never been better. Ned Beatty is perfectly cast and does a fine job. And Jon Voight should have been nominated for an Oscar. If there is a weak link in the film, it is the music, which strikes me as timid.
Overall, "Deliverance" almost certainly will appeal to viewers who like outdoor adventure. Even for those who don't, the gritty characterizations, the acting, and the plot tension are reasons enough to watch this film, one of the finest in cinema history.
'Deliverance' is a brilliant condensed epic of a group of thoroughly modern men who embark on a canoe trip to briefly commune with nature, and instead have to fight for their sanity, their lives, and perhaps even their souls. The film has aged well. Despite being made in the early Seventies, it certainly doesn't look particularly dated. It still possesses a visceral punch and iconic status as a dramatic post-'Death of the Sixties' philosophical-and-cultural shock vehicle. There are very few films with similar conceits that can compare favourably to it, although the legendary Sam Peckinpah's stuff would have to be up there. Yes, there has been considerable debate and discussion about the film's most confronting scene (which I won't expand upon here) - and undoubtedly one of the most confronting scenes in the entire history of the cinematic medium - but what surprises about this film is how achingly beautiful it is at times. This seems to be generally overlooked (yet in retrospect quite understandably so). The cinematography that captures the essence of the vanishing, fragile river wilderness is often absolutely stunning, and it counterbalances the film as, in a moment of brief madness, we the viewers - along with the characters themselves - are plunged into unrelenting nightmare. 'Deliverance's narrative is fittingly lean and sinewy, and it is surprising how quickly events unfold from point of establishment, through to crisis, and aftermath. It all takes place very quickly, which lends a sense of very real urgency to the film. The setting is established effectively through the opening credits. The characters are all well-drawn despite limited time spent on back story. We know just enough about them to know them for the kind of man they are, like them and ultimately fear for them when all goes to hell. The conflict and violence within the movie seems to erupt out of nowhere, with a frightening lack of logic. This is author James Dickey's theme - that any prevailing romanticism about the nature of Man's perceived inherent 'goodness' can only wilt and die when his barely suppressed animal instincts come to the fore. There are no demons or bogeymen here. The predatory hillbillies - as the film's central villains - are merely crude, terrifyingly amoral cousins of our protagonists. They shock because their evil is petty and tangible. The film has no peripheral characters. All reflect something about the weaknesses and uncertainties of urbanised Homo Sapiens in the latter 20th century, and all are very real and recognisable. Burt Reynolds is wonderful in this movie as the gung-ho and almost fatally over-confident Survivalist, Lewis, and it is a shame to think that he really couldn't recapture his brief moment of dramatic glory throughout the rest of his still sputtering up-and-down career ('Boogie Nights' excluded, perhaps). Trust me, if your are not a Reynolds fan, you WILL be impressed with his performance here. John Voight is his usual effortlessly accomplished self, and Ned Beatty and Ronny Cox both make significant contributions. This is simply a great quartet of actors. To conclude, I must speculate as to if and when 'Deliverance' author James Dickey's 'To the White Sea' will be made. For those that enjoyed (?) this film, TTWS is a similarly harrowing tale of an American Air Force pilot's struggle for survival after being shot down over the Japanese mainland during WW2. It's more of the typically bleak existentialism and primordial savagery that is Dickey's trademark, but it has all the makings of a truly spectacular, poetic cinematic experience. There was the suggestion a few years ago that the Coen brothers might be producing it, but that eventually came to nothing. Being an avid Coen-o-phile it disappoints me to think what might have been had they gotten the green light on TTWS, rather than their last couple of relatively undistinguished efforts. Returning to 'Deliverance', it's impossible to imagine a movie of such honest, unnerving brutality being made in these times, and that is pretty shameful. We, the cinema-going public, are all the poorer for this.
After having seen Deliverance, movies like Pulp Fiction don't seem so
extreme. Maybe by today's blood and bullets standards it doesn't seem so
edgy, but if you think that this was 1972 and that the movie has a truly
sinister core then it makes you think differently.
When I started watching this movie nothing really seemed unusual until I got to the "Dueling Banjos" scene. In that scene the brutality and edge of this film is truly visible. As I watched Drew(Ronny Cox,Robocop)go head to head with a seemingly retarted young boy it really shows how edgy this movies can get. When you think that the kid has a small banjo, which he could of probably made by hand, compared to Drew's nice expensive guitar, you really figure out just how out of their territory the four men are.
As the plot goes it's very believable and never stretches past its limits. But what really distinguishes this film, about four business men who get more than they bargained for on a canoe trip, is that director John Boorman(Excalibur) breaks all the characters away from plain caricatures or stereotypes. So as the movie goes into full horror and suspense I really cared about all four men and what would happen to them.
The acting is universally excellent. With Jon Voight(Midnight Cowboy, Enemy of the State) and Burt Reynolds(Boogie Nights, Striptease) leading the great cast. Jon Voight does probably the hardest thing of all in this film and that is making his transformation from family man to warrior very believable. Unlike Reynolds whose character is a warrior from the start, Voight's character transforms over the course of the movie. Ned Beatty(Life) is also good in an extremely hard role, come on getting raped by a hillbilly, while Ronny Cox turns in a believable performance.
One thing that really made this movies powerful for me is that the villains were as terrifying as any I had ever seen. Bill Mckinney and Herbert "Cowboy" Coward were excellent and extremely frightening as the hillbilly's.
Overall Deliverance was excellent and I suggest it to anyone, except for people with weak stomachs and kids. 10/10. See this movie.
I think one of the words that most describes the events in this film to
me is brutal. When I saw this as a young lad, I felt the isolation of
the four characters, cut-off from the world they are used to and thrown
into a brutal world where nature is harsh (the rocks and canyons along
the river always scare me) and the local folk are a complete world
away. The film still scares the sh*t out of me! I mean, what would YOU
do if you were confronted by two hill-billies in a situation like that?
It's so easy to remain distant and see the film as "entertainment", but take a reality-check and immerse yourself in the story. It's a shame some just don't appreciate the film - guess we're used to adrenaline-pumping action from start to finish nowadays, but that's too easy - it doesn't require emotional involvement from the viewer unlike a film such as Deliverance...
Deliverance is the fascinating, haunting and sometimes even disturbing tale by James Dickey, turned into a brilliant movie by John Boorman. It's about four businessmen, driven by manhood and macho-behavior, who're spending a canoeing weekend high up in the mountains. Up there, they're faced with every darkest side of man and every worst form of human misery...poverty, buggery and even physical harassment! These four men intended to travel down the river for adventure and excitement but their trip soon changes into an odyssey through a violent and lurking mountain-land, completely estranged from all forms of civilisation. All these elements actually make Deliverance one of the most nightmarish films I've ever seen. Just about everything that happens to these men, you pray that you'll never find yourself to be in a similar situation. Pure talking cinema, Deliverance is a very important movie as well. John Boorman's best (closely followed by Zardoz and Excalibur) was - and still is - a very influential film and it contains several memorable scenes that already featured in numberless other movies. Just think about the terrific "Duelling banjos" musical score and, of course, the unforgettable homosexual "squeal like a pig" rape scene. All the actors deliver (haha) perfect acting performances. Especially Jon Voight. A must see motion picture!!
John Boorman's "Deliverance" concerns four suburban Atlanta dwellers
who take a ride down the swift waters of the Cahulawassee
The river is
about to disappear for a dam construction and the flooding of the last
untamed stretches of land
The four friends emphasize different characters: a virile sports enthusiast who has never been insured in his life since there is no specific risk in it (Burt Reynolds); a passionate family man and a guitar player (Ronny Cox); an overweight bachelor insurance salesman (Ned Beatty); and a quiet, thoughtful married man with a son who loves to smoke his pipe (Jon Voight).
What follows is the men's nightmarish explorations against the hostile violence of nature It is also an ideal code of moral principle about civilized men falling prey to the dark laws of the wilderness
Superbly shot, this thrilling adult adventure certainly contains some genuinely gripping scenes
As Peckinpah did with STRAW DOGS, and Kubrick with A CLOCKWORK ORANGE,
director John Boorman delivers an effective film about Man's violent side in
DELIVERANCE, arguably a definitive horror film of the 1970s. Burt Reynolds,
Jon Voight, Ned Beatty, and Ronny Cox portray four Atlanta businessmen who
decide to take a canoe trip down the wild Cahulawassee River in northern
Georgia before it is dammed up into what Reynolds calls "one big, dead
But the local mountain folk take a painfully obvious dim view of these "city boys" carousing through their woods. And the following day, continuing on down the river, Beatty and Voight are accosted and sexually assaulted (the film's infamous "SQUEAL!" sequence) by two vicious mountain men (Bill McKinney, Herbert "Cowboy" Coward). Thus, what started out as nothing more than a lark through the Appalachians has now turned into a nightmare in which our four protagonists come to see the thin line that exists between what we think of as civilization and what we think of as barbarism.
James Dickey adapted the screenplay from his own best-selling book, and the result is an often gripping and disturbing shocker. Often known for its "SQUEAL!" and "Dueling Banjos" sequences, DELIVERANCE is also quite a pulse-pounding ordeal, with the four leading men superb in their roles, and McKinney and Coward making for two of the most frightening villains of all times. A must-see film for those willing to take a chance.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I watched this movie in the wee hours of the morning when I should have been
asleep. This, in itself, was testimony that Deliverance was a spell-binding
movie. I think Boorman did a wonderful job on directing this film. How
expertly the early scene with the hill folk and the dueling banjos was done.
It showed so well and early on how inherently reserved and simple the
people of the area were. Case in point - near the end of the "duel", the
banjo-playing boy was smiling (loved his banjo), but when Drew tried to
shake the boy's hand after the "duel", the kid was too reserved to respond.
The river trip never left you bored, for sure. The rape scene was brutal,
but necessary to show just what the group was up against in this backwoods
area of Georgia. I think Beatty's traumatic shock afterward was well done.
Some have said he was pretty unaffected by the ordeal. I disagree - if you
really payed attention, he was unresponsive during the entire action
immediately following, in which Reynolds put the arrow through the attacker
and they chased off the toothless guy. It was confusing when Ed killed the
other guy later, at the top of the cliff. It almost appeared that the arrow
was shot while Ed was curled up and expecting to die, but then you realize
the arrow he had shot earlier had finally taken effect.
Anyway, a great movie, and I was wavering between an 8 and 9 on my vote, but after reading a message from a disgruntled voter who gave it a "1", I gave it a "10". This individual's reasoning seemed based on personal bias, rather than an objective viewpoint, and his vote was obviously a non-correlating attempt to lower the rating.
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