Friday, August 6, 2010

Canon Movie Review: Deliverance

Earlier today, I decided to watch the 1972 movie "Deliverance", partially because I had never seen it before, and partially because nothing else was on at the time. Deliverance stars Burt Reynolds, Jon Voight, and Ned Beatty, and was directed by John Boorman. The film was nominated for three Academy Awards, including best picture, and in 2008 the Library of Congress selected the film for preservation in the National Film Registry. In Deliverance, four businessmen from Atlanta decide to canoe down the fictional Cahulawassee River in rural Georgia before the river valley is destroyed due to the construction of a dam and lake. The trip does not go well, to say the least. A few thoughts about this film and there are Spoilers, so be careful before reading any further.

- There are two scenes that this film is most remembered for. One is the 'Dueling Banjos' scene where Drew (Ronny Cox) plays his guitar alongside a rural kid with a banjo (Billy Redden). What's interesting about that scene is that while the two strangers from different worlds connect through music, the boy for some reason refuses to acknowledge Drew after the two are done playing, despite Drew's best efforts. The scene illustrates the disconnect between the four 'city-slickers' and the rural people in the movie.
- This movie centers around the four businessmen, Drew, Ed (Voight), Bobby (Beatty), and Lewis (Reynolds). Of the four, Lewis is by far the most experienced outdoorsman and seems to be the 'alpha male' of the group. At times, Lewis is almost overbearing with his macho ways, not only to me but to the rest of his party, particularly Bobby, who complains of Lewis yelling at him too much. Actually, it's hard to believe that any of these people are actually friends, as they are so different from each other that it's hard to see them liking each other. There's Lewis the wannabe survivalist, Drew the timid musician, Bobby the typical middle class salesmen, and Ed the family man. The fact that the movie hardly explains how they know each other (and in one scene, Bobby admits to not knowing Drew all that well) doesn't really help matters.
- The film's other famous scene is the 'squeal like a pig' scene, where Bobby and Ed have a confrontation with two mountain men, and things do not go well for Bobby, as one of his captors sodomizes him by force and makes him squeal like a pig in the process. It's often referred to as one of the most disturbing scenes in the history of cinema, and it definitely is hard to watch. Two other things about this film. One, this was Ned Beatty's first film role, which must have been quite a challenge for a neophyte actor, and two, for a man who suffered a traumatic experience like that, Bobby did not seem all that broken up about it. Sure he was upset right after it happened, but not long after he acted as if it had never again. Then again, the four had a whole lot of other problems to worry about after that, so that might be why.
- After Lewis saves Ed and Bobby by killing one of the rapists mountain men, their trip goes from bad to worse, as now they have to dispose of the body, avoid the other mountain man as well as any other men he could have gathered to get revenge on his friend, avoid the police and still get back to their cars by canoeing through a rough river. From there, the story seems to shift and Ed  is made the main character, due to Lewis badly hurting his leg. It's up to Ed to lead the rest of his crew, which had already lost Drew, to safety and cover their tracks as well. It is here that Jon Voight starts to shine, as he does a tremendous job of portraying Ed's transformation from a happy-go-lucky family man from the city to a warrior type survivalist who will do anything it takes, even killing, in order to survive.
- One thing about this movie is that all of the actors due their own stunts. The main actors are actually rowing, even though only one of them, Beatty, actually knew how to row before shooting of the film began. When the men are falling down the river's rapids, Reynolds did his own stunt and actually broke his coccyx, and Voight actually has to scale a large rock wall without harnesses or much protection at all. If Hollywood ever did a remake of this movie (and I really hope they don't), you can bet that the actors of that film would not be doing their own stunts.
- The film was primarily shot along the Chattooga River in Clayton and Tallul,ah Gorge, Georgia, which is actually less than an hour away from my house. While the film did not help the perception of people in rural Georgia, the cinematography was just breathtaking at times, and really captures the beauty and ferocity of nature. Kudos to cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond and his crew, who really did a great job in this movie.

Overall, this film was good and made an impact on me for sure, but there were a few slight flaws. For one, the ending seemed to be a little anti-climatic, as you keep thinking it's over and lo and behold, there's another scene. The main characters in this movie, outside of Ed, seemed to be one-dimensional and flat, and there are a couple of scenes that seem to drag on forever for no particular reason. Nevertheless, this is a very good movie, so I'll give it a 7.390 out of 10. Well, thanks for reading, and if you have any thoughts about this post or other previous posts, or ideas for future posts, than share them either by leaving a comment or by sending me an e-mail at

1 comment:

  1. Great review!

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    Keep up the good work!