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Deliverance (1972)

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Deliverance (1972) - 6/9/2013 9:07:45 AM   


Posts: 18
Joined: 30/10/2011
my shit review of 'Deliverance'

Released in 1972, ‘Deliverance’ was adapted for the screen by author James Dickey, who wrote the original novel of the same name. A landmark hit, aspects of this film have been recycled and referenced many times. Those first few twanging notes from the foot thumping ‘Duelling Banjos’ scene are now international code for heralding the arrival of hillbillies on screen, in everything from The Simpsons to video games like Dead Rising.

At the start some of the aforementioned hillbillies are entrusted by a foursome of friends to drop theirs cars at the town of Ayntree, the journey’s end, while the city dwellers canoe downstream and swill beer until they reach that destination. At the head of the party is outdoors man Lewis Medlock, (Burt Reynolds) who swaggers over his buddies with an air of knowing superiority. Paddling along behind are; the level headed Ed Gentry (John Voight), the naïve and bespectacled Drew Ballinger (Ronny Cox), and out of place Bobby (Ned Beatty) who has secured his place at the bottom of the pile by allowing all his pals to him ‘Chubby’.

The first act largely serves to foreshadow the dark turn of events yet to befall the company and the unsuspecting friends drift along merrily and enjoy all that nature has to offer. They try to make the most of it, especially Lewis, who brings up the plans of an industrial energy company that are going to ‘rape this whole landscape’ by drowning it in 100ft of water. The men continue South, but their fortunes head in that direction too; before long they will be exposed to roaring river rapids, incestuous locals and worse.
Rapport between the men is quickly established and some excellent drunk acting adds to the immersion. The film is so gripping because the audience can believe this is a real group of friends. Shot on location in Georgia, the Chauttooga stands in for the fictional Cahulawassee river. The water based action feels authentic and in fact extremely dangerous; stomachs will drop as boats are cruelly hurled to and fro. Nature is shown profound respect by director John Boorman as he emphasises the majesty of the landscape and the futility of any effort to conquer it. Even as the characters face their most sickening and perilous trials, the environment remains unchanged, beautiful to behold.

John Voight as Ed has the standout performance, showing flickers of doubt and primal fear as he tries to maintain his cool for the sake of his company. It is plain to see that the experiences are taking their toll on his state of mind. Aside from a rather meek closing act which fails to rouse the same levels of suspense enjoyed thus far, Deliverance is highly engaging, at times challenging, and shot wonderfully. Having seen an untold number of cabin/forest based horrors, ‘Deliverance’ will have a much more profound effect on the imagination of this reviewer next time he goes out in the woods.


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