Deliverance is not a movie for the faint of heart. It is brutal and violent. It is the type of movie that you watch like some will stop to see an accident

Deliverance is not a movie for the faint of heart. It is brutal and violent. It is the type of movie that you watch like some will stop to see an accident. Strangely captivating yet at the same time almost repulsive. Yet, in spite of this, or perhaps because of this, Deliverance remains one of the truly most powerful and well-crafted movies of its time.

Deliverance concerns four men, friends from the city, that go out to the back woods for a cannoning trip. The river is about to disappear as result of a new dam being built to provide electricity to the area. The four friends are nothing alike. First there is Lewis (Burt Reynolds), the adventurer, the man’s man. He has never had insurance since there is ‘no risk’ in it. Next there is Ed (Jon Voight), the quiet one. Smokes a pipe and is reluctant to take a chance. Then there is Drew (Ron Cox), the one who loves music and sets out on the adventure with his guitar in tow. Last there is Bobby (Ned Beatty), better know as Chubby newest to the group, an insurance salesman. The type of man that tries to hide his insecurities by talking bigger than he can actually act. While Lewis acts in charge during the day he sleeps in the fetal position, in insecurities made manifest when there is no conscious self-control. What occurs next is the old movie staple of placing reasonable men into a situation completely without reason.

The first day and night go much as the group expected. They encounter a mild rapid and all but Lewis are pleased with their being able to navigate the white water. Lewis states that you cannot beat nature, you can simply play the game. The sleep without realization that the game would shortly become one of survival. Early in the next day Bobby and Ed pull ahead of Lewis and Drew. They go ashore and soon are held at gunpoint by two mountain men. The mountain men proceed to tie up Ed and one of them sodomizes Bobby. Just as they are about to do the same to Ed, Lewis shoots one mountain man in the back with his arrow. The other one runs off leaving the confused party alone. A debate ensues as to what to do next. Lewis contends that they should just dispose of the body and get back to their lives as soon as possible. Drew feels that they should report the matter to the police and take their chances. The group sides with Lewis and the bury the corpse. They return to the river and soon find themselves before a large rapid. Drew goes into shock and the party is capsized in the turbulent waters. Drew is lost and Lewis seriously injured. Somehow they come to the conclusion that the mountain man shot Drew and Ed climbs up a cliff to hunt for him.

During this scene the cinematography is incredible. The tress and bushes atop the cliff take on a surrealistic quantity. Reality seems to draw away leaving Ed to climb the cliff lost in his conflicting thoughts. At one point he stops to look at a picture of his family. He desperately needs a link to his life back in the city. He drops his wallet, his last hold on his past life gone.

The acting in Deliverance is top notch. All four main actors play their roles with realism not often seen today. The mixture of emotions they present hit hard and burning into the mind of the viewer. The acting alone will draw you into watching although you are repulsed by the events. Added to this the quality of the direction and you have a riveting tale.

John Boorman is a little known but excellent director. After Deliverance Boorman went on to write and direct Zardoz, a strange story of the future and the corruption of man’s values. A theme that Deliverance provides another viewpoint. Each scene is well crafted. The contrast between the horrors the men face and the beauty of the surroundings makes this movie the classic it has become.

The Deliverance DVD itself is well done for a remix. The Dolby 5.1 adds to the experience. The sounds of nature are ever present in Deliverance. The surround speakers providing a realistic ambiance that enfolds the viewer. The picture quantity is excellent, no flaws or artifacts are to be found.

There is both a widescreen and pan and scan version on the disc, one to each side. Ignore the ‘A’ side pan and scan, as you really need the full view to appreciate this movie’s scope. There is the minimum of extras provided on the disc. Mostly text only background material and one making of short. While Deliverance is not for everyone it was an important movie of its time. Gritty and disturbing yet a dramatic work worth owning.

Review by Doug MacLean of

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