Probably the gifted 83-year-old, Surrey native and five-time Oscar nominee's best work--and easily the finest work ever done by Reynolds, shortly before he simply rested on his laurels and became nothing but a caricature. THIS at the very least was proof that he at one time actually had chops and could act.
The scariest aspect of all is that this goes on all the time and we just don't know about it. Hundreds of people go 'missing' every day. And, as a Canadian, it's people like the culprits in this film that are responsible for America now having the worst Presidential candidate of all time actually having a chance of being the head of the most powerful country in the world. Now THAT's scary.
"Deliverance" is a 1972 film that was directed by John Boorman and written by James Dickey based on his novel. The movie tells the story of four city slickers from Atlanta taking a canoe trip on a river in the backwoods of Georgia before the lush landscape is ruined by a dam project. During the trip they are forced to confront the treacherous nature of the backwoods as well as battle against two violent mountain men in order to escape their increasingly perilous situation.
In looking on this film it is hard to believe that it actually came out 44 years ago. The reason is that the cinematography and directing of this movie is gorgeous. The main reason for this is that the movie is directed a lot like a documentary with it containing little music for most of the movie and the way in which John Boorman frames many of his shots and edits. This style of directing makes the movie feel visceral and helped me feel like I was watching something that actually happened. This feeling is further helped with it being shot on location and the four leads rapid river scenes being actually performed. On top of that, every actor in this movie is completely believable in their role. Burt Reynold's macho attitude fits perfectly within the role but the real performance comes from Jon Voight who slowly evolves from a timid city slicker, into someone who slowly embraces the primitive nature in the way that Reynold's character had already done.
This is also one of the few movies where I would say that the violence is actually realistic. When Roger Ebert reviewed this film years ago he claimed that the film "was a fantasy of violence rather than a realistic consideration of it" this likely came about by his interpretation that Dickey was trying to "[tell] us something about the nature of man, and particularly civilized man's ability to survive primitive challenges." While that argument could certainly be made, I have a hard time believing that that was the film's primary objective.
In the context of the movie I believe it is about the line between the violence of civilization and the violence of nature and how it may be more blurry than it first appears. This is reflective in the violent actions of the film since many of them are committed with the use of primitive tools. The only type of homicidal violence that may have not been committed by the bow and arrow is during the death of Drew who may or may not have been shot. Drew's death is a symbol of the blurred lines between a violence of civilization and the violence of nature since in that case how he died was completely unclear. If it was by the gun the fault would be civilization, if not then it was nature that killed him. Bobby's rape scene furthers the point since he is told by his captors to "squeal like a pig" in order to blur the lines of Bobby being a man and Bobby being a helpless animal. The point is furthered by the rape itself which on the one hand is violence committed by men that can be seen as an hideously intimate action but at the same time is the use of something that is only natural as a weapon. There are further examples of this throughout the movie which I believe continues to help elevate this movie beyond the simple machismo-style fantasy violence that Roger Ebert perceives. Instead, the violence is used to paint a portrait of how civilized violence and natural violence is more blurred than most people think therefore disproving his point that it is not a realistic consideration of it.
Overall I would say that "Deliverance" is a movie that I would highly recommend to film buffs like myself. It is a movie that truly came out ahead of its time and it reminds me heavily of what modern movies are like today. The story is fantastic and contains several layers and themes beyond the primary one that I explained. The directing and acting is phenomenal and the scenery is just plain gorgeous. I give this film a 5 out of 5 rating but I wouldn't recommend it to people who get easily queasy.
(after i saw it) traumatic and epic. the intense rock climbing scene from the book was well represented in film.
Galvanizing, realistic story of four friends who go canoeing on the dangerous waters of the Cahulawassee River and find it a trip they'll never forget. An American classic, and perhaps the most terrifying non-horror film ever made. "Dueling Banjos", first encounter with frightening back-country men, and climax on mountain are unforgettable highlights. Phenomenal editing by Tom Priestley, exhilarating river sequences are tip of the iceberg.
Deliverance is a film that holds a strong cultural line between country and city life which it conveys in an excellent manner. The locations used are beautiful as they convey the more grey side of the country, more dark and gloomy land against a river running rapidly. It explores the land deeply, mainly through excellent cinematography which is used to angle the land in views from all different directions. It conveys the beauty of the natural land as well as the darkness of it, ensuring Deliverance is given a strong setting to be based in, especially as it is conveyed as if the land has never been seen by anyone and is unknown territory, just as the main characters would view it.
The atmosphere is masterful, as director John Boorman makes use of silence to enhance the mysterious feel of unknown land. Yet the music used at the beginning of the film is an eccentric and energetic country piece which conveys the type of land the characters have entered. It's an excellent and memorable moment with terrific music, and similar music plays later on in a slower pace to convey the slow moving structure of country life, even when it's used as the characters are rushing down the rapids of a river. It just maintains a constant atmosphere so strongly that we see the main characters as the fishes out of water the normal folk see them as, and John Boorman's role as director is truly deserving of very much acclaim, because his handling of the story takes a laid-back approach to the events so we understand how the atmosphere naturally exists in the world the characters are in. His direction perfectly contextualises the story. And it's special, particularly because handling such a story is rough territory to charter into, but he treats it as the author and screenwriter James Dickey has clearly intended, and in due process turns it into a landmark thriller movie. One reason it does this well is by never tying the characters to the setting. It makes it abundantly clear that the land does not welcome them, nor do the people. It develops into the fear the characters gain of the wild land as they become trapped in it, forced to commit actions which they cannot comprehend doing in their own town. They drown themselves in fear and paranoia of what will happen, and slowly they collapse psychologically. The development is flawless, particularly at one scene where the characters deal with murder. They don't play it off as something that just happened. They actually realise "We just murdered somebody!". How they attempt to deal with it individually is emphasised excellent, particularly since death has grown to becomes such a commodity amongst film and something characters can cause without flinching. But in Deliverance it's different. It's incredible.
But what's the best part is how a story as simple as that of Deliverance can be so thrilling and so clever in the manner that it psychologically manipulates its characters, and its truly an excellent spectacle.
And the cast of Deliverance keeps it alive.
Jon Voigt leads the story strongly in Deliverance portraying Ed Gentry, the character perhaps most haunted by everything, even when what happened to Bobby Trippe would be significantly more scarring. He strongly conveys his internal struggles and psychological dysfunction after a series of cataclysmic events leave him shattered, and the way he frantically is forced to turn strong in a hard situation is an excellent scene for the characters development.
And Burt Reynolds makes a breakthrough in Deliverance. Before he became iconically comedic for his work in Smokey and The Bandit he worked immensely into his character in Deliverance, portraying a character with strong physicality but a weak ego in his characterisation of Lewis Medlock. Deliverance is a front for his immense skill at dramatic work very early in in his career and foreshadows some of his most acclaimed work in serious dramatic character roles, such as his Academy Award nominated turn in Boogie Nights.
Ned Beatty also worked tremendously hard to secure a powerful performance in Deliverance , and since his character is put through a forcible male rape sequence it's difficult not to feel shocked by the dynamics, but Ned Beatty works with this and conveys the horrific fear from the moment in his character perfectly. The scene is unforgettable and his work is deserving of serious acclaim.
Ronny Cox was also good.
Essentially, Deliverance is a masterful thriller constructed excellently on a low budget with shocks and fears that are haunting in their imagery and are absolutely unforgettable.
The payoff, in comparisson to its development leaves a ton to be desired, but Deliverance still manages to have a very serious and hostile tone that very few movies ever manage to achieve in its simplicity.
"Sometimes you have to lose yourself before you can find anything."