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.
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
John Boorman's gold record for the "Duelling Banjos" hit single was stolen from his house by Dublin gangster Martin Cahill. Boorman depicted the crime in his film about Cahill, The General (1998). See more »
In the first rapids sequence the Drew's hat disappears and reappears between shots. 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 »
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.
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