Deliverance (1972)

DVD Cover (Warner Brother Deluxe Edition)
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Overall Rating 74%
Overall Rating
Ranked #1,008
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Intent on seeing the Cahulawassee River before it's dammed and turned into a lake, outdoor fanatic Lewis Medlock takes his friends on a canoeing trip they'll never forget into the dangerous American back-country. --IMDb
Jon Voight
Jon Voight
Burt Reynolds
Burt Reynolds
Ned Beatty
Ned Beatty
Ronny Cox
Ronny Cox
Ed Ramey
Ed Ramey
Review by Chad
Added: July 17, 2009
Deliverance is a movie that I put off reviewing for years simply because of that one scene - you know, the one with the grown man squealing like a pig and the other fellow with the purty mouth? How can you look at a film with fresh eyes when that one scene has been parodied and referenced countless times in the nearly forty years since its original release, and how could you possibly not let that bit of pop culture overshadow everything else found in the running time? So, I put off watching the film for ages, but since I am now trying to cover everything found in Bravo's "100 Scariest Movie Moments", I found myself forced to finally sit down with the film and give my thoughts. The result: I found a film that has easily stood the test of time, and not because of that infamous scene.

We begin with an introduction to four city boys - Ed (Jon Voight), Lewis (Burt Reynolds), Bobby (Ned Beatty), and Drew (Ronny Cox) - who decide to head out to the country for one last weekend of whitewater canoeing before the river valley that is their destination is flooded by the government in order to make a new dam and lake. They realize that they're out of their element before they even get to the water as they find that this area is inhabited by some of the most backwoods, inbred hillbillies that you're ever likely to meet, but no matter: Lewis is the de facto leader of our group, an outdoorsman who has a way with words and the muscles to back it up.

It's not long before they find themselves in the water, paddling downstream towards the about-to-be-flooded town of Aintry and having themselves a grand old time in the process. They decide to pull over to the shore for a few minutes to rest and take a bathroom break, and this is where the infamous hillbilly scene comes into play. You see, two hillbillies appear out of nowhere with mischief on their minds, and one of them proceeds to sodomize poor Bobby while his toothless friend watches on with a shotgun in hand. From there... well, these four boys are out in the middle of nowhere and they are in some deep shit, so let's just leave it at that in case someone out there hasn't seen this.

Deliverance was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant", and there's a reason for that. It's not because the film sparked the long-lived "hixploitation" subgenre, a collection of films that would carry on the stereotypes presented here for years to come, and it's not because of that infamous rape scene that people who haven't even seen the movie can quote word for word. It's because, quite simply, Deliverance is a hell of a film that works on multiple levels while boasting some damned impressive directing.

For starters, let's take a look at the surface of the film. Here we have a movie that is quite simple in its storytelling: four men go out into the wilderness, they encounter hostile hillbillies, bad things happen, they try to survive. If that's as far as you care to dig into the story, then you will still walk away thoroughly impressed due to the direction, the acting, and the twists that arise as the film progresses. Viewers start to genuinely care about the leading men, and thanks to the strong writing, we never get the feeling that they're completely safe: from that rape scene onwards, we are on the edge of our seats wondering when the second attack will hit and who will survive it. We want to see the rednecks get their just deserts, we want to see how the heroes will escape their tormentors, and we want to know how they will live with themselves if they ever return to civilization. At face value, the "wilderness survival" film just doesn't get any better than this.

The film geeks in the audience will also find a lot to dig into, as the ninety minutes that the film runs for is filled to the brim with metaphors and underlying meanings. Statements about man versus nature, "civilized" man versus "uncivilized" man, alpha male syndrome, and numerous other thoughts and theories are explored throughout the film, just waiting to be discovered by those who care to look. One would have to write an essay to delve into the statements that were made in this film, but it's a far cry from the simple thriller that it may appear to be. That is the sign of a classic film: something that can be taken at face value and enjoyed, and something that also has plenty of food for thought sprinkled throughout.

If it wasn't obvious by now, I absolutely loved this film - there's simply nothing to dislike about it. Here is a movie that spawned not one but two scenes that have become ingrained in pop culture, scenes that are known by people who haven't even seen the movie, and the film surrounding those two scenes lives up to and exceeds expectations. Great acting, great direction, great music, and a storyline that will keep you hooked from start to finish: if that's not a perfect film, then I don't know what is. 10/10.
Ginose #1: Ginose - added 07/18/2009, 01:23 PM
THANK FUCK someone actually watched this movie after being put off by the pig scene for so long. This has long been one of my favorite action-thrillers, as there was nearly nothing I could say in slight against it. It's practically flawless. The acting, pacing, whriting, suspense... Loved every second of it all the way up to the unsettlingly sorrowful ending. Not a note missed. High point of Reynold's career, as far as I'm ocncerned.

Lucid Dreams #2: Lucid Dreams - added 07/19/2009, 11:22 AM
Of course, if there is a rape scene of two men in it Chad is going to review it.
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