Deliverance (1972) Poster


User Reviews

Review this title
366 Reviews
Sort by:
One of the most disturbing films of all time
eastie13 September 1999
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.
262 out of 309 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
"Sometimes you have to lose yourself before you can find anything."
Nazi_Fighter_David15 July 2007
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…
50 out of 57 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
A true classic
Huge2 October 2000
This is without a doubt one of the best movies I have ever seen; a chilling 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 of 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 multi-million-dollar 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.
187 out of 229 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Excellence Delivered
Lechuguilla8 October 2005
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.
162 out of 210 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Brilliantly Harrowing Film
chain6724 December 2000
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.
114 out of 151 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
The thin line between "civilization" and barbarism
virek21312 July 2001
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 lake."

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.
72 out of 93 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Insanely disturbing, survival movie. It will change ur perception about human nature.
Fella_shibby21 February 2016
I first saw this on a vhs in the 90s, then on a vcd in 2006 n finally on a blu-ray. It's an extremely disturbing film especially the scene with Ned Beatty. One of the best backwoods/survival film of all time. The film's awesome scenery, the sounds of birds, reptiles n insects n the gushing wild rivers combined with the absence of civilization are characters themselves. We get to see Jon Voight doing some daredevil rock climbing and Burt Reynolds in his sleeveless t shirt flaunting biceps. John Boorman has created one of the best movies based on James Dickey's novel. Indeed an influential movie. The banjo scene n the music is terrific.
15 out of 17 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Pete7 December 2004
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...
111 out of 154 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Powerful and Real Deliverance Delivers
zippyflynn229 October 2006
Perhaps there are other movies that so painfully, accurately portray savage violence and the impact it has on the individual but I don't think I've ever seen any. Deliverance is one of the most powerful movies I've seen, haunting me with its nightmarish imagery and forcing me to ask myself the question "How far would I go in a similar situation? And what effect would it have on me?" A rarity for a film, it does not soften the blow of the original story, its meaning nor the questions it raises for the viewer. People complain about violence in movies but that vast majority of violence is nothing more than glorified cartoonish fiction, a testosterone release for boys of all ages. It's false and one dimensionally clichéd, usually written by arm chair warriors who get their notions of violence from tall tales others have told them, usually in the form of more bad fictional violence they have seen in other movies, comic books, etc. For anyone who has experienced it or honestly evaluated it, real, brutal violence is not fun nor a cause for celebration for those that survive or "win". The swaggering, "good guy" hero may be fun to watch in the western movie, and I enjoy a good vicarious release film as much as the next guy, but these heroes don't really exist, certainly not as the brash, righteous hero they're colored as. Real, brutal violence is just that, real and brutal. There aren't any "winners" or "heroes" when it comes to savagery and killing, just survivors who are profoundly impacted, irrevocably changed in a harsh and painful way. If you're unsure of this fact, just ask anyone who really has experienced it, not the teller of tall tales as most are but the veteran who lives next door but came back strangely changed and won't discuss the nightmares he's living. Survivors of real, savage violence don't brag about it in bars and wear it as a badge of courage. They seldom or never discuss it, so unfortunately the naive think the liars who spin tales of false bravado are real. We need real violence in movies, the impact it has on the soul of a person. For once I'd like to see when someone gets hit on the head in the film hard enough to be knocked out that almost a third of them will die from their injuries and the remaining survivors will not jump up, perfectly fine when it's advantageous to the story but come to and pass out repeatedly, experiencing searing headaches unlike anything you can imagine, vomiting and unable to stand for hours sometimes days due to their severe cranial concussion. If there were more movies like Deliverence that deliver a real story, powerfully and unapologetically, violence in movies would become a powerful tool for education, very probably reducing its frequency by those who shockingly discover being involved is nothing to be proud or righteous about, a lesson learned way too late by so many walking wounded, often living right next to to you.

As a side note, I was told by a literary friend that James Dickey wrote this over the course of a manic weekend on a bet. He was a poet who at a cocktail party on a Friday argued with an acquaintance that writing fiction was much easier than poetry. He set out to prove it and the novel Deliverance was the result. Certainly, the novel follows the weekend time line exactly. Great story, but I have yet to be able to authenticate it.
10 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
What else can you ask of a movie? GREAT
MountainMan8 November 2003
Warning: 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.
56 out of 82 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Coventry18 January 2004
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!!
97 out of 149 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Classic gets better with each viewing
Erewhon4 June 2000
I hadn't seen this movie in at least 20 years, but in the last few, it had started to itch away at my mind. I thought it terrific when I first saw it, but had I missed something even so? Was it more than just a disturbing adventure movie, in which city people run afoul of backwoodsmen?

So as soon as I saw the DVD, I bought it, even though it was obviously another Warner Bros. rush-it-out, never-mind-the-extras job.

The movie isn't as good as I remembered -- it's better. Those who are looking for a RIVER WILD thriller, or a SOUTHERN COMFORT (a DELIVERANCE imitation) suspense movie, are already looking in the wrong place. This movie is about what goes on inside people much more than it is about what goes on >around< them.

I've seen comments here suggesting that Ned Beatty doesn't show enough reaction after being brutally raped. Huh? He's stunned for ten minutes, then tries to attack Bill McKinney's >corpse<. He's still rattled the last time we see him in the movie, when he tells Jon Voight that they won't be seeing each other for a while. (Which clearly means forever.) Beatty's life has been changed; he'll never get over it.

So has Voight's, but in a different way. For the first time, I noticed that >three< people get into the tow truck when Reynolds hires those brothers to drive their cars to the canoeist's destination. Sure, that's logical -- there are three vehicles to drive initially, after all. But why does Boorman take pains to avoid showing us the face of the third person in the tow truck, but does show him fingering the gun in the rear window of the truck?

Could it be because this guy turns up later? Is he Bill McKinney's character? Or the Toothless guy? Or the guy Voight kills? Which of course raises the most important questions in the movie: WAS Ronny Cox shot? And if he was, was the guy Voight kills the one who shot him? (And was Voight's victim the Toothless guy?) On an initial viewing of the movie, all this seems pretty obvious: yes, Cox is shot; yes, Voight kills the right person, the Toothless guy.

But then what about the man we later learn has gone hunting but who hasn't returned? Why is Voight so shocked when he looks into the mouth of his victim? Boorman and Dickey give great weight to the scene in which Voight fails to kill a deer. (Even if he had, it would have been a foolish, wasteful act.) The interplay between Voight and Reynolds is also very interesting; Voight clearly admires Reynolds on some levels, while finding him disgusting on others.

Dickey is primarily a poet, secondarily a novelist; it's not hard to believe that he intended all four men to represent different aspects of the human condition. DELIVERANCE is one of the most intricately ambiguous movies of its type ever made; it cannot be pulled apart into easily-understood sections, and where our sympathies should lie is never obvious. Even the sheriff, played by Dickey himself, has darker shadings that are partly inexplicable. And there is that shot of the removal of the graves; it's not in there by chance or for local color.

On the surface, DELIVERANCE seems to be an exciting, disturbing adventure -- and it is that. But just like the secrets the lake conceals, there's a great deal more beneath the surface of DELIVERANCE.
8 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Brutal, Beautiful and Brilliant.
Spikeopath24 September 2009
Four Atlanta friends - Lewis (Burt Reynolds), Ed (John Voight), Bobby (Ned Beatty), and Drew (Ronny Cox) – decide to canoe down the Cahulawassee River out in the Georgia wilderness. They see it as a test of manliness whilst also wanting to experience this part of nature before the whole valley is flooded over to make way for the upcoming construction of a dam and lake. But the perils of nature are not the only dangerous things in their midst, unfriendly wood folk are about to bring another dimension in terror.

Deliverance is one of those films that sometimes suffers by way of reputation. Much like Straw Dogs and 70s films of that type, the hype and promise of unremitting hell often isn't delivered to an expectant modern audience. Which is a shame since Deliverance is one of the finest, glummest, brutalistic and beautiful films of the 1970s.

Adapting from James Dickey's novel (screenplay duties here also), British director John Boorman crafts a tough and powerful film of men out of their environment, thus out of their league. As each man sets off initially, it's a test of manhood, but each guy is forced to deconstruct their worth, and it soon becomes more about survival as this deadly adventure proceeds. Boorman, aided by cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond, has painted a raw and treacherous landscape, unconquered by city slickers but dwelt in by inbreds who don't take kindly to the city folk showing up with their machismo attitudes. From the first point of contact with the strange locals, where Drew goes "duelling banjos" with an odd looking child, the film doesn't let up, much like the locals themselves, the film also is remorseless. Some critics over the years have proclaimed that Deliverance is too pretty, mistaking lush physicality as something detracting from the dark thematics at work. Not so, the Chattooga River sequences are electrifying, the rapids scenes (brilliantly filmed with Voight and Reynolds doing real work, and getting real injuries) are merely setting up the unmanning of our "macho" guys just around the corner. It's a fabulous and potent piece of "beauty". With the four cast leaders absolutely brilliant in their respective roles. In fact there are few better casting decisions ever than that of Reynolds as Lewis, one can only lament that he didn't have more hard edged serious roles in his career.

Minor itches exist, metaphors are heavy (Vietnam a 70s staple it seems) while ecological concerns are hinted at without being as prominent as they are in the novel. Surveying the landscape during the opening of the piece, Lewis reflects that man is going to rape this land, rape it, it's stuff like that that is not totally formed, given way to abject horror and survival, Lewis again noting that survival is the name of the game. A game of life and death, where man's primal being means violence may indeed beget violence. Boorman clearly agreed. 10/10
10 out of 12 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Disturbing, yet thought provoking
treybott851 March 2002
This was, undoubtedly, the most disturbing movie that I have ever seen. The first part of the movie, though strange, has a light and amusing quality to it. The journey begins on such a peaceful note, detailing and emphasizing the beauty of the hills of Appalachia. But that is misleading beyond belief. The obvious social problems (inbreeding) and the deformities of the countryside's inhabitants are only the first disturbing aspects of the movie. I can still hear Bobby moaning in pain, and I shudder at the thought. Lewis's leg made me wince. Yet, while the movie was, on the whole, very disturbing and distressing, it posed some interesting questions. When is it moral, or right to take another individual's life? What can morality drive us to do, or not do, in some cases? And are dignity and moral integrity more important than life itself? Whatever conclusions one may draw from the film, it is an achievement in its own right (despite certain aspects that were chillingly real and gruesome).
43 out of 64 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
This here river don't go nowhere near ANTRY !!!
MC1-Bjornson16 April 2007
Warning: Spoilers
"Deliverance", Rated "R" by the MPAA, Running Time 1hr & 49mn. **** (Out of ****) Content includes: Adult Situations, Profanity, Male Nudity, Rape and Some Bloody Violence (though not extreme).

'Deliverance' is a tale about four well-to-do Atlanta business men who decide to go on a weekend long canoe trip. All four men are friends with very different personalities. There's Lewis Medlock (Burt Reynolds) the survivalist and the authoritative leader of the group. Ed Gentry (Jon Voight) is the easy going family man. Bobby Tripp (Ned Beatty) is the sarcastic pampered insurance salesman. Drew Bollinger (Ronny Cox) is the banjo playing voice of reason and moral compass of the bunch.

The foursome decide to do their extended trip in a very remote part of rural Georgia. This will be the group's only time ever to enjoy the Cahulawassee River. Soon, a local power company will complete a dam for a power generator. It's only a matter of time before the river is gone and the forgotten community of Antry will be replaced by a lake. The town and it's residence will be re-located to higher ground.

The inhabitance of the rolling hills of the Cahulawassee are poor rural folk who've never seen civilization. They are highly mistrustful of outsiders and just as soon keep to themselves. These people are poverty stricken, have little to no education and many are the products of inbreeding. Truly, the people that time forgot.

There are subtle signs at the beginning of the expedition that the four river travelers may have been better off staying in Atlanta and playing golf. Nevertheless, they press on to their fateful trip. It starts off fun and adventurous enough. - Then the unthinkable happens. It's one of the most disturbing encounters in modern movies. After that, all bets are off . . .

'Deliverance' is skillfully directed by John Boorman. He creates wonderful characters, creates a sense of awe, tension and dread. This is a taunt drama about the worst camping nightmare come to life and how to deal with it. Boorman would later go on to direct 'Excalibur' (1981) and 'The Emerald Forest' (1985).

"Deliverance" is a great sociological commentary on cultural values and differences. It works on a very subtle level with many things to think about.

By today's standards, the pacing of "Deliverance" may be too slow for some people. I recommend it, but not to those who have the attention span of a flea.
9 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Awesome Existential Action/Adventure Classic!!!!
patrick-31910 February 2006
This movie is one of the best movies I've seen. The acting is absolutely stellar -- the chemistry between Jon Voight, Burt Reynolds, Ned Beatty and Ronny Cox is incredible as four guys from wildly differing backgrounds, united by a common thread of humanity. The four city-slickers head out together for a white water canoe trip down a river in the hill country of northern Georgia. The film is packed to the brim with action, adventure, and the essence of survival. Adding to the intensity is that fact that almost all of the movie was shot on location, at an almost inaccessible river deep in the south. Director John Boorman had to use jeeps to truck in the equipment and the 4 lead actors were actually transported by canoe! Voight also performs a rock climbing feat that will leave you in awe (according to the "making of" documentary on the DVD, Voight declined to use a stuntman). The white-water cinematography and choreography is breathtaking, especially considering that this was shot in the early 1970s.

At first, from a quick glance, Deliverance appears to be a straightforward adventure story; however, the film goes down a deeply philosophical route as the four men race their vehicles into the back-country and then their canoes down the wilds of the river. The film explores our relationship with nature, conceptualization of morality, and the existentialism inherent in life. The backwoods hillbillies the four adventurers interact with in various ways paint an amazingly complex portrait which ties together the destruction of nature, man's "evolution" from his natural roots to the resigned life of "city dweller," and the tensions and prejudice inherent in humanity. This is done perfectly, without drawing on stereotypical "black vs. white" or "yankee vs. southerner" comparisons--all the characters in this film are southerners, although each character (major and minor), for all intensive purposes, transcends categorization.

The "Dueling Banjo" scene, in which guitar-slinging Ronny Cox battles a banjo-playing hillbilly kid (the actor, Billy Redden, was actually a resident of the backwoods region where this was shot) sharply complements the men's fight against the river, and the river's fight to remain wild. This film simultaneously explores the theme of duality from the confines of: (1) the individual's mind, (2) Reynolds' group of comrades, (3) all humanity as a whole, and (4) something much greater. The banjo music in this scene is awesome!!! If you enjoy the song "Dueling Banjos", I strongly suggest that you pick up the Deliverance soundtrack, which also includes 17 additional songs played by amazing banjo musician Eric Weissberg (I believe only "Deuling Banjos" and maybe one or two other songs were actually used in the film).

There are some disturbing scenes in this film, so it is not for the overly squeamish but, if you think you can handle the river, I encourage you to take this powerful, action-packed journey into the philosophical backwater of humanity!
9 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Disturbing 1972 adventure on the Chattooga River
Wuchak31 December 2016
Released in 1972 and directed by John Boorman from James Dickey's novel, "Deliverance" is an adventure thriller about four guys from the Atlanta area who take a canoe/camping trip in the Georgia wilderness. When they run into a couple of violent hillbillies their fun adventure turns into a disturbing test of survival.

I didn't see "Deliverance" until almost two decades after its release. I didn't know anything about the film or anyone who had seen it, but it looked like a potentially good adventure story so I finally decided to rent it.

The first Act plays out as you would expect, four guys escaping the shackles of urban life enjoying a canoe trip, and then -- WHAM -- Act 2 hits you like a ton of bricks. When I first viewed the movie I wasn't braced for this scene. In fact, it was so disturbing that it pretty much ruined the rest of the picture for me. I watched it until the end but - that scene - left me dazed and detached. Viewing it again recently I was fully braced and was therefore able to appreciate the film.


  • Burt Reynolds is great as the macho protagonist Lewis, but he's largely missing during the third act and epilogue. The unassuming Ed (Jon Voight) takes the reigns as deliverer, with Bobby (Ned Beatty) lending a helping hand.

  • The film was shot on the Chattooga River in NE Georgia, which borders South Carolina. The gorge is located in Tallulah Gorge State Park 15 miles West of Walhalla, SC (you can actually see it via satellite on Google maps). The dilapidated town in the epilogue is Sylva, NC, 45 miles north of the gorge. Needless to say, lush Eastern locations.

  • After the disturbing scene a moral crisis takes place in the remote forest where the four members of the party must vote on a decision. Lewis (Reynolds) and Drew (Ronny Cox) make their cases and the other two must choose. Count me with Lewis. At first glance it would seem that Drew is arguing the side of the wimpy moralist, i.e. contact local law enforcement and allow the courts to settle the matter. Is this the real reason he takes this position or is it simply because he doesn't want to risk becoming an "accessory to a crime"? Actually, Lewis is no less the moralist -- after all, he makes a moral judgment and unhesitatingly acts -- it's just that he refuses to risk allowing the local authorities and a potential inbred jury (likely related somehow to the hillbillies) twist his just and necessary actions into a crime.

  • Writer James Dickey effectively plays the towering Southern Sheriff in the epilogue.

  • The Deluxe Edition DVD includes an excellent 4-part documentary that runs about 45 minutes. All principle cast members are interviewed, as well as director Boorman and the son of James Dickey. By all accounts Dickey had a forceful personality and intimidating presence. He kept calling the actors by the names of the people they were playing even while not filming. One night in a pub he kept referring to Reynolds as "Lewis" from across the room and Burt refused to answer him. Dickey came up to his table and got in his face. Angered, Burt cussed at him and told him to quit calling him Lewis. Dickey paused for a moment and responded, "That's exactly what Lewis would have said" and walked away.

  • "Wrong Turn" (2003) is a modern horror film that, generally speaking, tackles the same subject as "Deliverance." The problem with "Wrong Turn" is that it's full of horror clichés and cops an unrealistic vibe. Don't get me wrong, it's an entertaining film for what it is but I was never able to buy into the story as a potential reality; hence, I didn't find it horrifying at all. "Deliverance," on the other hand, is totally realistic from beginning to end and is successfully horrifying precisely because it COULD happen.

  • Speaking of realism, Roger Ebert heavily criticized the scene in "Deliverance" where Ed (Voight) climbs up the rock gorge, arguing that it was totally unrealistic. Is he serious? He needs to get out more. I'm older than Ed in the film and could climb those rocks fairly easily (I'm not bragging, just pointing out that Ebert's criticism is not valid for anyone who's in remotely decent shape).

  • Also speaking of realism, if you suffer from ADHD and need constant (unrealistic) action scenes and goofy one-liners to maintain your attention, skip this one.

  • Lastly, "Deliverance" is about 45 years old and hasn't dated at all. This is a timeless picture.

The movie runs 110 minutes.

4 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
A fantastic portrait of terror in mind vs terror in reality
David27 May 2016
To try and explain the greatness of Deliverance, you must first understand the impact this film had when it came. Most of us have probably seen a horror film about a gang in the woods that gets harassed and stalked by people. Deliverance is the father of these films and an original that stands really well to this day as one of the best films ever made in the genre. A gang of four guys ventures out in nature to paddle canoes along Cahulawassee River before it gets flooded into a lake. However their boat trip does not turn out the way they had hoped for when they suddenly gets stalked and harassed by the locals. Burt Reynolds plays the outdoor fanatic Lewis who brings his friends on the journey, Jon Voght, Ned Beatty and Ronny Cox. The film is directed by John Boorman from the novel by the same name from 1970.

What is it then that makes Deliverance so incredibly good. At the beginning of the film the gang is traveling by car, the mood is good and very typical for guys. After having a short break to fill up the cars with petrol and listening to the famous banjo duel "Dueling Banjos" between Ronny Cox's character and a local boy, they head for the river. What happens next out on the river is like a nightmare and also very psychologically demanding. Deliverance always feels so real and genuine that you truly become frightened. How would you yourself react in a similar situation so far away from civilization? After the gang starts to get harassed in the woods, the panic and fear increases. They all react differently, and rightly so, no human being is the other alike. That is just what makes it so good, the characters' different personalities. The film then sort of becomes a psychological mind game, perhaps mostly taking place in their heads. Are they being followed, how will they get out of the situation they are in and what will they say when they return?

Besides the psychological aspects of Deliverance, it is also incredibly beautiful to watch. It's completely filmed on location out in the woods with actors willing to perform the different stunts themselves. As I wrote when I reviewed The Revenant, this is also a man vs wild film. In the beginning we experience nature as incredibly beautiful and stunning but later it quickly turns to become your worst nightmare. Incredibly well done by the director. The absolute greatness in Deliverance lies according to me in the end and the summarization of the film. What really happened and what didn't happen. How do you react to these kinds of situations out in the middle of nowhere? Can we return with our senses intact and how do you change as a person after experiencing something like it? Without spoiling the story too much, I've here tried to review and explain what Deliverance is to me. I recommend everyone to watch it and it is very high up on my list of the best films ever made.

David Lindahl -
4 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
oppressively chilling to watch and very thought provoking
Dee Dee13 December 2014
Warning: Spoilers
SPOILERS! My review is mostly meant for examination by those who have already seen the movie!

As others have said this is a truly chilling and sinister film, many so called scary films lose their edge over the years by becoming dated, but this film feels sinister from the beginning and becomes almost unbearably oppressive to watch. Probably what makes it so chilling is the terrible events are entirely plausible.

One reviewer here said that this film was about how violence (real violence) affects people, I won't repeat his review because he explains it more eloquently than I, but I totally agree.

But interestingly enough as a woman it seemed to me that this movie was also examining masculinity but none of the male reviewers here have mentioned that, so I may be wrong. But I feel this way because it is noticeable to me how differently the men react, compared to women, to trauma. After the male rape not only is it never mentioned again but even initially when Ned is rescued it is not mentioned. I feel women would at least have a cry and hug each other first, but I may be wrong, because shock can manifest in different ways. However all of the men react in the same seemingly unemotional way, of course it is obvious that the men are traumatised by the event but their reaction is to protect their friend and fix the problem. And their way of fixing the problem is by not talking about it. Of course, part of the reason this event can't be discussed is because it is so emasculating. But their caring is obvious in little vignettes, for instance when Jon Voight helps Ned dress after the rape.

Why men suppress emotions is something I have not always understood and at times has annoyed me, but this movie was such an insight for me, as I finally got it. We women know how to let out emotion safely, but men are so trained to suppress it that when it does happen it is often like a dam bursting then they can't control it, so it's safer to bottle it up.

But the sad thing is though that their suppression will have terrible effects on them, this is one of the reasons therapists often say people shouldn't "bury" their problem (never was a metaphor so apt as in this film), however letting it out will make them crack, so they can't win, if they talk about it or suppress it, either way it will affect their sanity.

Mind you even as a woman I could understand that many women would want to bottle up an event as traumatic as this one.

Depressingly enough most movies when women get raped there is often something still "sexy" about the way it is shot but the male rape scene here is so sudden and so chilling you feel their helplessness and you know that if they aren't rescued that they will be killed and horribly, and you know they know this. Often rape reports deal with the violation but this scene really brings home to you the thought of not just the violation but the sheer terror that victims must feel, so I think this scene would be equally illustrative of what both men and women would experience.

Even before the rape, it is obvious to me that all these men feel inadequate as men. Macho Lewis is over compensating, whiny Ned boasts about sexual conquests because he knows how unmanly he seems.

So they want adventure (ie violence) so to transform themselves into real men, but ironically they don't understand that real violence isn't an adventure.

Weirdly enough what should be considered emasculating, the horrible rape Ned experiences, is actually what transforms him into a real man, one who is scared but determined to survive and help his friends.

Lewis almost does the opposite he goes from being the strong survivalist (though who undoubtedly saves them) to being terrified and in visible distress from his injury and helplessness.

But I don't think the movie is saying that he is a coward. I think the movie shows them all as true human beings, they all show great courage at times but are also reduced to absolute terror at other times as anyone experiencing such horrors would. But that's part of the point is that you can not have true courage without real fear.

So unlike the comic book heroes that they wanted to emulate, true heroism evolves from enduring terrible trauma.

And it makes me wonder if perhaps one of the reasons that war veterans do not speak of war isn't just because of the horrors they saw but perhaps they are also ashamed of the times that they showed fear, no matter how courageous they may have been, deep down they may feel like cowards.

The sad thing is that I think that the characters here will be forever traumatised and feel emasculated by what happened to them but the events were also the making of them as courageous heroes but they probably won't see it that way, but I had no doubt that Ned would go away being stronger, kinder and less brash to others and that Lewis would become more humble and that Jon Voight would appreciate his family more.

This is one of the few movies I've seen adult male rape in, and society rarely mentions it too. I think issues such as this should be explored more in cinema, so that men who have experienced such terrible trauma can at least feel that the issue is being addressed in some way. Because let's face it part of the reason why Ned and the other characters can't speak about the rape is because society has deemed adult male rape to be an unspeakably shameful subject.
4 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
James Dickey was a mountain of a man
nixskits10 December 2009
The late Mr. Dickey was 6'7" from what I've read. So when he appears in the adaptation of his own book as a sheriff, it isn't like some tiny, unintimidating author playing a part for a laugh.

"Deliverance" is as deadly serious a 70s hit as anything before or since. The fear factor, before that term invoked images of silly people eating insects on primetime TV, rises like the violent waters about to break a levee once and for all. The great John Boorman directed this. And to a large extent, Dickey was an unofficial (and unwanted) assistant to Boorman. Or rather, a competitor. I can only imagine how an author reacts to anyone taking their creation from the page to the screen and all the struggles involved with that.

Apparently, Dickey would address the four main actors by their character's name. Burt Reynolds says in his autobiography that he finally told Dickey off and the big man replied, "That's exactly what Lewis would say!" And later on during the shoot, before departing, he also said, "I understand my presence would be more efficacious in it's absence!"

The four men on this trip into the horrors of confronting dangers both in Mother Nature's and deranged human assailant form find out what real fear is all about. Life in the city didn't prepare most of them for the moment when they'd have to fight for their very lives.

Ned Beatty was probably the most visible of the rape survivors in film history, at least in North America (Sophia Loren in "Two Women" would be the international candidate for that, I guess). Certainly as a man attacked by another man, he tapped into an energy most males didn't want to acknowledge. But females watching him struggle know what that distress is really all about. Domination and a perverse, insidious display of power corruption in the human soul and society at large are the key components of sexual assaults.

Until Jodie Foster starred in "The Accused", Beatty stood almost alone in representing a person violated who found the courage to go on despite the trauma the attack unleashed. How many major stars would play this part, then or now, without wanting to compromise at least a little bit in the extent of the scene? Reynolds also said that during it's filming, the action went on to the point where he couldn't take it anymore and tackled Billy McKinney off Beatty and demanded of the director, "Why the hell did you let that go on so long?" To which Boorman replied, "Because I knew when you reached your breaking point, that's when the audience would reach their's!"
8 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
ema-5011 January 2013
40+ years after it was made, it still seems fresh. Horrible, thought-provoking, beautiful, exciting, well acted, and consistent. Truly a classic.

I saw this movie with my dad 29 years ago, because he had seen it some years previously, and wanted to see it again. I was 17 at the time, and thought the movie was "cool". Seeing it now, at the age of 46, and with half a (or a whole) lifetime behind me, the movie is still "cool". But it is so much more also. It's a comment on the pros and cons of "the system", the evolved society of man. It's presented through the ordeals of 4 men in the vanishing remains of wilderness in America.

No overacting, no simplifications, just honest storytelling. Loved it - again.
6 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
A great film about humanity
Krug Stillo31 May 2003
Although this cannot be classified as a horror film, certain aspects of Deliverance are truly disturbing and frightening. It deserves the award for depicting the most horrific male rape ever committed to celluloid.

For those who still have yet to experience this classic film, the plot concerns a four man group heading into the wilderness for a canoe trip and what happens when they're threatened in alien environment. Lewis, Ed, Bobby and Drew (macho, pensive, amiable and humanitarian) are attacked by two back woods red necks. Cue the unforgettable - `You look just like a little hog. Squeal piggy!' line. Each man has to confront his own demons and needles to say the film ends without the typical Hollywood end, bit on a grim note.

With great direction from John Boorman (Exorcist II, The Emerald Forest…etc.) James Dickey's screenplay is based on his own novel, and he even makes an appearance in the film among a whole cast of true professionals. The score is also unsettling and the Dulling Banjos scene is superb and unforgettable. I don't want to say anymore, but this is a 'must see classic'.
6 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Very good
preppy-313 February 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Engrossing drama of four men on a canoing weekend down a remote river. They are pacifist Ed (Jon Voight), adventurous, violent Lewis (Burt Reynolds), obnoxious Bobby (Ned Beatty) and nice guy Drew (Ronny Cox). The first 40 minute are great--there's the incredible dueling banjos sequence, interesting interplay among the characters and just stunning widescreen cinematography by Vilmos Zsigmond. Then two hillbillies attack Ed and Bobby. One of them rapes Bobby...and the trip becomes a nightmare.

Just unbelievable. The scenery is incredibly beautiful yet this horrific violence is taking place. To be truthful, Beatty's rape has never bothered me--I'm very aware it's being faked despite the good acting. This movie also shows how the characters change--Ed has his pacifism tested, Lewis becomes weak, Bobby is violated by one of the people he mocked earlier on and Drew tries to keep himself sane. Direction by John Boorman is also very assured and the sounds of the forest and the river help the mood immensely.

The acting is mostly good. Voight is just OK in the lead--he's been better. Beatty is also just OK--but it is his debut film and he has guts for taking such a risky role. Cox is very good especially when things start falling apart. And Reynolds is just superb--one of his best acting jobs EVER! How this wasn't even nominated for an Academy Award escapes me. Also Bill McKinney and Herbert Coward are way too believable as the hillbillies.

A powerful film--NOT for children. Try to see an uncut version--the TV version is butchered. Also letter-boxed viewing is essential to capture the breathtaking images.
33 out of 55 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Roger Ebert, Once Again, Out to Lunch
mercuryix200325 February 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Roger Ebert, the film critic most palpably in love with his sense of perceived intellect, once again proves the phoniness of his objectivity as a reviewer by slamming movies like this one. There are some film critics like Ebert that when they are made uncomfortable by a movie, dismiss it without examining it, and call it sensationalistic. Mr. Ebert has done this with this one, which means this movie has done its job. The critic is too uncomfortable to examine the emotions this movie evokes, and uses pseudo-intellectualism to insulate himself from it. (Particularly in his hackneyed statement that the writer of the book made up contrived "statements" in the movie, instead of being real ones.)


The premise is simple; four businessmen leave the safety of their urban environment to go water rafting; they encounter a world outside their safe haven, that they cannot control. They eventually run into the wrong people, who despise them for simply existing and invading their territory, and their journey becomes a nightmare.

The movie is a study in how alienated man can become from his own species, how superficial the trappings of civilization are, and how civilized behavior will not help you survive when encountering simple animalistic behavior. The moral of the movie seems to be, there is no morality in survival, there is only survival. The men are graphically tortured, one raped, one murdered apparently by a hillbilly sniper trying to cover their tracks, and forced to commit murder to simply survive. Or is it simple self defense? They then realize that if they are honest and report the attacks that were made on them, they will be tried and executed simply for defending themselves.

They are therefore forced to lie, cover up and hide their experiences for life, even from their own families if they are to survive in the artificial "civilized" world they return to.

The movie places the characters in unfair circumstances they must survive in, and then further unfair circumstances as they must hide what happened to them to escape a place that will execute them if they tell the truth about defending themselves.

The unspoken message "stay in your own backyard or you'll be killed" is very depressing. But then, there are residents in Los Angeles that cannot even go into a different neighborhood without gangs targeting and killing them for no reason.

When a critic like Roger Ebert is too afraid to really examine the dark statements this movie makes emotionally, you know you have a movie that will move you and disturb you. The ironic thing is that now we have movies like Chain Saw Massacre III, Devil's Rejects, Friday the13th 1-9, etc, that make this movie's violence seem mild. However, the hatred, alienation and cruelty it examines will haunt and disturb you for years afterwards, long after meaningless drivel like the other movies mentioned are forgotten. In this day and age, that is no small accomplishment. Eight stars for me.

(cue banjo music....)
9 out of 12 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews