Movie Notes: Deliverance
= 4 stars
Starring Burt Reynolds, Jon Voight, Ned Beatty
Directed by John Boorman
Four suburban businessmen, on a camping trip in the backwoods of Georgia, encounter some disturbing situations that devolve into a matter of life and death.
- Very realistic depiction of nature’s pleasures and perils. All four actors did their own stunts, and the scenes of canoes riding the rapids are tense and exciting.
- The film contains a cool musical number “Dueling Banjos.”
- This is a very “manly” film. Lewis, the alpha male who wields a huge bow, talks of civilization’s collapse, and smokes a cigar. Ed is a repressed “beta” and must learn to be a killer. Yes, there are many phallic objects: arrows, shotguns, guitars, etc.
- Lord of the Flies with grown ups. Each character adapts differently to the increasing danger, leading to several morally questionable choices.
- The impoverished, backwoods natives come across negatively and at worst, it’s exploitative.
- The violence and the characters’ lack of introspection near the film’s end nearly subvert the big themes. People may wrongly develop a hate for rural folk, banjo music, or camping in general.
Several themes: Most of us “civilized” people would be literally up a creek if left to fend for ourselves in the woods, and our civilization can be stripped away all too easily. The film also wonders if living with the guilt of having committed a horrible crime is worse that getting caught, as this implies the absence of God. Others see Deliverance as a metaphor for America’s involvement in Vietnam. All and all, a harrowing adventure in the woods.
Rotten Tomatoes: Deliverance 94%