Deliverance has VC-1 (21 Mbps) 1080p 2.40:1 encode, which is similar to its 35th Anniversary release. The 35th Anniversary release was minted from a new master. Director John Boorman and director of photography Vilmos Zsigmond explain in the included supplements that they intentionally shot Deliverance in a desaturated, soft style, and it certainly looks it. Therefore, don't expect a presentation that is ultra razer sharp, colourful or high-contrast. The print (while not pristine) is generally clean and free of dirt and speckles. On the plus side, daytime exteriors can look great. Colours brighten up, especially fleshtones. Depth improves noticeably, and the detail verges on the lush, with even longshots nicely textured. Only close-ups come near to delivering the kind of high-def we're generally accustomed to these days, but still, compared to all past video versions (especially the horrid pan & scan VHS copies that were available for years), Deliverance has never looked better. (3.5/5)
Great news! Perhaps learning from their recent blunder on the Unforgiven: 20th Anniversary Edition, Warner has wisely decided to replace the previous blu ray’s lossy mix with a new DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless track. The rear speakers are more assertive, more arresting even, than in most catalog remixes but never at the expense of the film's original sound design. The chorus of the forest - the chirping, croaking and rustling - join the rhythms of the river - the rushing, surging and roaring - to create an enveloping, unexpectedly immersive soundfield that defies forty years of age. It not only revitalizes Deliverance, it makes it that much more thrilling, harrowing and, eventually, unsettling. Dialogue is mostly clean. The sound of the dueling banjos in high definition, played by Eric Weissberg with Steve Mandel, is crystal clear. While it can't compete with modern mixes, Deliverance sounds pretty good with a respectful 5.1 mix that carries a restrained but pleasing sense of immersion. (4/5)
Deliverance was nominated for 3 Oscars in 1973: Best Picture, Best Director and Best Film Editing. The song Dueling Banjos by Eric Weissberg and Steve Mandrell reached No. 2 on Billboard Hot 100 in 1973.
PACKAGING & SPECIAL FEATURES:
This new 40th anniversary edition on a BD-50 disc is housed in an attractive digibook case. The 46-page book includes lots of information on the film's production, casting, and famous banjo theme with great colour photos and numerous quotes from the cast and crew. There is an all-new featurette on Deliverance: The Cast Remembers, plus a Commentary by Director John Boorman: a four-part Retrospective: Deliverance: the Beginning, The Journey, Betraying the River and Delivered.
One of the most brutal and uncompromising films of the 70s, Deliverance almost single-handedly terrified a generation into never going camping again (just like Jaws to swimmers), and remains one of the most perceptive and disturbing explorations of man's propensity for violence. That it continues to wield such influence - even forty years after its original release - is testament to the film's ability to simultaneously deliver mainstream action-movie thrills while exploring complex human truths with subtlety and intelligence. Even after forty years, Deliverance remains an unflinching, disturbing, and utterly compelling story of survival. This new release from Warner Brothers features the same solid video transfer from the previous blu ray and offers fans a very welcome lossless audio upgrade. In addition to all of the supplements from the last disc, we also get a new retrospective with the cast and a wonderful digibook package. I was fortunate enough to grab this when the price was lowered to $12.99 during the Christmas sale. Even though the price has gone up again, it is still the definitive edition of this chilling movie, and is highly recommended.
on June 27, 2004
City folk Burt Reynolds (Louis), Jon Voight (Ed), Ronnie Cox (Drew) and Ned Beatty (Bobbie) take a canoe trip down a backwoods Georgia river which will soon be flooded out when a new dam is constructed.
The foursome hire some possibly-inbred hillbillies to drive their cars down to Aintry to be picked up later. Off they go downriver. They encounter small rapids, bugs, and then Ed and Bobby are assaulted by two unpleasant hillbillies. They make Bobbie drop his drawers and squeal like a pig, and tell Ed he has a "real purty mouth". Louis and Drew sneak up on them and kill one of the men as the other runs off.
This leads to a moral dilemma among the four canoers. Do they tell the cops? Do they bury the body and act innocent? They make a decision, and continue downstream. At one point going through some rapids, Drew falls overboard, apparently shot by the second hillbilly, and Louis breaks his leg. Bobby camps out with Louis as Ed climbs up a cliff to reconnoitre and ferret out the second man. Finally, they continue down to Aintry, where they recuperate, and are questioned about their experience.
The screenplay was written by James Dickey based on his book, and he has a small part as the sheriff who wonders what the men had been up to.
Good ensemble acting (probably Burt's best role), beautiful photography and locations, and a great story make this an impressive movie. Oscar nominations for director (John Boorman), picture and editing, and Golden Globe nominations for director, picture, actor (Voight), song ("Dueling Banjos") and screenplay. The reasonably-priced DVD has the R-rated full-screen and wide-screen format movie, a good documentary, English or French language and subtitles, Dolby sound, chapters, cast/crew/production notes, and a trailer.
on July 7, 2003
John Boorman will probably forever be best known as the director who gave us the brillianly conceived screen production of "Excalibur", but in 1971 he came up with this adaptation of James Dickey's novel of the same name, and with the help of four 'game' actors, created one of the best films of all time.
Even if it's not your cup of tea (due to the disturbing nature of the film), it's something everybody should watch at least once. John Voight is the audience member's representation--even if he doesn't say much, he does a great understated acting job, making clear the horror that he feels, and that we feel through him.
Ronny Cox plays the conscience, Burt Reynolds the ego, and Ned Beatty the victim of the human condition, and tied in with the wonderful cinematography, filmed on location in Georgia, this is one of the most suspenseful movies of all time.
It's also famous for the 'Duelling Banjos' scene that opens the film--unforgettable, and it sets the tone for the rest of the film, when Ronny Cox puts it best:
Amazingly made film, this keeps a strong sense of tone and foreboding going from the first frame to the last. Beautifully shot by
Vilmos Zigmond (although a few manipulated day for night shots look a bit wacky). The film moves at an even, moderate pace,
without ever hurting the tension or drama.
Thematically, it is an examination of the destructive nature of male machismo, the price of survival, the darkness of the human
heart, the lies we're willing to tell ourselves and the world to get on, and the split between those of the land and those who use the land.
These are not small themes, and sometimes they're a little too on the nose (e.g. dialogue like 'sometimes you have to get lost to find
yourself' – although I'm not sure if the film is embracing that platitude or making very dark fun of it). At other times exactly what it's
saying seems a bit fuzzy, or like it wants to have all its thematic cakes and eat them too. (Men need to be challenged to find their real
self, but – on the other hand – trying to find your 'real self' may be an illusory path to your own destruction, literal or metaphoric).
Also, I could see the poverty stricken people of the US Appalachian mountains, who already carry understandable anger as being
constantly portrayed as stupid, inbred and violent, taking offense to the film, and they'd have a point.
Yet all that said, this is a movie that's more about a visceral experience than a collage thesis dissection, and that is where 'Deliverance'
excels. It takes us to hell, and only partly back, and we get immersed in the journey in a way all too few films pull off. It is quite like
being lost in a bad dream. And I mean that as a compliment.
on June 29, 2004
DELIVERANCE (1972) was adapted from the great and controversial best-selling novel, written in 1970 by James Dickey. Made by British director John Boorman, who was relatively new to Hollywood at the time, this film was a faithful adaptation of the book, with the exception of some humor being interlaced into some of the earlier scenes. In some ways, it is even more disturbing; by juxtaposing some light comedy in the first half, Boorman makes what happens in the second half that much more nightmarish by comparison. And it is a nightmare...happening in the middle of the woods on a sunny day in the deep South.
The book told the story of four middle-aged surburbanites---Ed Gentry, Lewis Medlock (guess he did have a last name, after all), Drew Ballinger and Bobby Trippe---encouraged by nature-loving, alpha-male Lewis to brave the rapids of a river before it gets dammed for good. Told in first-person by Ed, who harbors latent homosexual desires for Lewis (though never acts upon them), the men paddle downstream in two canoes---Lewis & Drew in one, Ed & Bobby in the other---when they are separated at a river fork. As Ed & Bobby manage to get their boat ashore, and try to figure out a way to rejoin their friends, they are confronted by two mountain men with shotguns. Both are ugly. One of them is toothless. The non-toothless one forces the chubby, soft-bodied Bobby to strip half-naked and then rapes him at gunpoint, as Ed is restrained by being chained to a tree. When he has finished with Bobby, the toothless man prepares to force Ed to go down on him when Lewis finally catches up with his lost friends and shoots the first attacker with his bow & arrow, killing him almost instantly. As the toothless man runs off, Lewis attempts to lead his friends to safety down the river. However, banjo-playing Drew is shot to death by an unseen sniper (presumably the Toothless Man) and Lewis is incapacitated in an accident soon after. It is up to citified friends Ed and the now-broken-spirited Bobby to somehow gather their muster, and for Ed to learn to use his long-buried primordial instincts to help them get out of this horrible situation *and* to not arouse suspicion by the law.
The book was a compulsive page-turner and nail biter, and the well-made film is no different in that respect. Deciding to work with a 30-something cast instead of 40-somethings, Boorman cast then-rising-stars Burt Reynolds and Jon Voight as Lewis and Ed, supporting player Ronny Cox (who would achieve stardom over a decade later in BEVERLY HILLS COP, 1984) as Drew, and then-unknown Ned Beatty (in his film debut) as the unfortunate Bobby. It was casting genius. Reynolds fills Lewis Medlock perfectly, with his macho swagger hiding a surprising sensitivity which emerges once he is rendered practically useless. This performance made him a superstar (and should have earned him a Best Supporting Actor nomination), and began a decade of Burt dominating at the box office, though usually in Southern-fried comedies. Voight, who had already been Oscar-nominated as urban cowboy gigolo Joe Buck in MIDNIGHT COWBOY (1969), correctly tones down his usual overplaying tendencies to convey Ed Gentry's low-key complacent nature. Ronny Cox brings Drew Ballinger to life, and nearly steals the show with the film's early "Duelling Banjos" scene, and shows a lot of dramatic ability in the film's darker half. But it's Ned Beatty, in his brilliant performance as the at-first clownish and wimpy insurance salesman Bobby Trippe whose horrific trial-by-fire at first breaks him, then rebuilds him into a man who can stand up for himself and prevail, that is the film's emotional centerpiece. He definitely should have earned an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor for this very difficult role. Kudos must also be given to Bill McKinney, as the Mountain Man who rapes him; his portrayal is among the most chilling and creepy in cinematic history.
Speaking of that, this was the very first time male-on-male rape had ever been depicted on the big screen. John Boorman directed this scene with utmost care for his actors, while creating a scene that was in some ways even more horrific than had been described in James Dickey's book (there is no "squeal like a piggy" order given by the Mountain man in the book). According to Burt Reynolds' account in his autobiography, Ned Beatty was only going to do one take of this scene and Bill McKinney took his Method Acting a little too far and actually seemes like he was really going to "bang" Ned Beatty (it is maintained that he even had an erection at the beginning of this scene!); Burt and director Boorman had to intervene at one point! No matter what actually happened, this scene was handled bravely, and considering the fact that it was filmed in 1972, was especialy not easy to do. Lastly, the author himself appears at the end as Sheriff Bullard, and is amazingly well-cast in a subtely threatening (as scary as heck) cameo.
DELIVERANCE is still no less impacting as it was over 30 years ago. It is a must-see for anyone who calls themselves a movie fan.
MOST RECOMMENDED; AGES 15 & UP
on May 31, 2004
Four differents characters; rational, roughness, weak and spiritual in a journey along a river ; you know that mythologically speaking, the river means the life.
So all the hazardous challenges and powerful violent sequences are just a methapor of that crude reality that surrounds every day.
Those men will experiment an unforgettable ethic crossroad when they face the violence in its own nature. And sooner than later these inner hidden dragons will escape from Pandora's box and they will spread all along the film with unthinkable consequences.
This movie became, almost inmediatly after its release in a cult movie. Remember that John Boorman is a very talented director,
( Excalibur, Point blank and Zardoz) , so the remarkable point is to state that the life has much more imagination than us; that the reality goes far beyond the edge of fiction; and so this gripping tale will show it; the film is deeply absorbing and challenging; what would you do in their place ; how would you react? what is wrong or what it's right when the great question is survive. The sequence in which Lewis Medlock (Burt Reynolds in his best performance ever) throws his arrow ; you feel the ancestral and even genetic presence of our ancient nature. And it lets you thinking about the meaning of the violence; we use the term for pedagogical purposes; but when you are in the edge of the knife, fighting with a no mercy enemy; the violence is just another device, another tool which helps you to survive. Herman Hesse stated once this wise sentence: "Only the lived thought has value".
When the movie ends you feel a clear sensation of chatarsis; in the greek mood. And when they turn again to the world; they will never be the same. In this sense I remind the last of the six interviews that Joseph Campbell gave to Bill Moyers in that unvaluable work titled The power of Myth in which Moyers asks to Campbell if he is a man with faith. Campbell, with a suggestive smile gives to Moyers that overwhelming answer: I don't need the faith, because I own the experience. And that's what the film is about.
Watch that important issue; more than a film, an unvaluable masterpiece made in 1972. And believe me: no matter if this film lost with The Godfather ; that only increases the legend and it's merely anechdotical; due the multiple implications shown in this glorious work surpases its own age.
on May 30, 2004
Deliverance is one of the best known films in the world, perhaps, and after a thoughtful viewing you will know why. It's intelligent, gritty and shocking and packs quite a punch.
It's a simple yet well told story of how 4 very different men set off on a canoe trip to explore a river that they think they understand. The conflicts they encounter both with nature itself and some of the unsavoury inhabitiants of the area are legendary. The film gives 4 very different characters, some of them weak, some of them strong, and shows how they conflict with each other as the differences in personalities become more obvious under stress. This is what for me makes deliverance so compelling; the rifts between the characters and how they are played. The acting is pretty good, though some characters are given more to do than others.
The scene with the hillbillies is brutal and doesn't make for easy viewing, and the film does have its fair share of violence and savagery that viewers of a sensitive dispostition may not like.
It's a very good film on a very poor DVD, mine has no special features whatsovever! It's a good thing then the film stands up well to repeated viewings. It has that infamous duelling banjos soundtrack that will stay in your head long after you have viewed the film - seldom has the music worked so well for a motion picture, it is in many ways the highlight.
on May 13, 2004
I first saw this film when I was a teenager enamored with Science Fiction films and big explosions mixed with scantily-clad females. One day, and this is still up for debate, I reached maturity. Don't laugh. I was walking through my local video store with a new release in hand but nothing else grabbed my attention. Then I glanced over and saw "Deliverance." I hadn't seen this movie in a long time and I knew, like many other films from long ago, that seeing this film at my adult stage I would see it differently. What I saw was terrifying, and I experienced everything through all four character's eyes. The title of my review is "Fearless filmmaking." That says it all here. There is a documentary on the DVD showing just how much everyone had to go through making this film. No insurance company would cover it, which makes the fact that all the actor's did their own stunts even more remarkable. All four lead actors are stellar here. I was taken in by their performances and worried about each of them with sincere emotion. I was with them in spirit during the film. I even caught myself clenching my fists at one point. Another scene I actually spoke aloud what I felt the characters were thinking. When a film draws me in like that then I know I am experiencing something special. There are many unnerving, realistic scenes that made me stare at the screen completely transfixed. This film was released in 1972, but instead of feeling dated it looks and feels more like a period film. I suppose that is because the circumstances are shot so convincingly and the emotions shown by the characters are so universal. This is a genuinely moving film. Thank you.
on April 6, 2004
Director John Boorman's exciting, brutal, brooding, explosive and violent masterpiece remains one of Hollywood's most intelligent takes on the complex, contradictory cultures of American manhood, otherwise the more familiar preserve of directors like Sam Peckinpah and Walter Hill. Based on James Dickey's novel, Deliverance roots itself assuredly in fascinating and provocative dualities: liberal modernity and backwoods barbarism; beauty and violence; kindness and cuelty; morality and pragmatism and, atmospherically, the existential and the visceral - situating it a distinct cut above the average Hollywood action adventure output. Four suburban friends - career-best performances from Reynolds, Voight, Beatty and Cox - take one last alpha-male shot at canoeing the mighty Cahulawassee river - just as it is set to be flooded - literally and figuratively - by the needs, culture and infastructure of the New South as it rolls unforgivingly through what's left of the countryside.Just as their own middle class tensions, arrogances and irritations begin to surface, they run - courtesy of the hostile local population - into a world much smaller(...). What starts out as an egoistic attempt to reclaim some element of American frontier manhood amidst the privileged, cosseted reality of an otherwise safely suburban life becomes a gripping struggle to survive the ravages of nature and (distinctly warped) nurture. Features what is probably the silver screen's most notorious male rape scene, an episode that slides so quickly and unsuspectingly from cautious negotiation to gruelling and humiliating cruelty that it still retains the power to shock and unsettle. Possibly did more than any other movie to forever demonise the poor-white population of the Appalachians, spawning a slew of inferior copycats as well as the opportunistic "hillbilly horror" sub-genre that persisted into the early 80s with such exploitation nonsense as Hillbilly Holocaust and Trapped. Walter Hill's differently brlliant Southern Comfort, Jonathan Mostow's efficient suspenser Breakdown and Curtis Hanson's The River Wild can be argued to be among Deliverance's more palatable latter-day spawn. (In the latter, Meryl Streep shows that otherwise meek women - pushed to the limit - can be just as primal given a reason and a river!) Deliverance is a superior film that harks back to the days when a thoughtful Hollywood film and a crowd-pleasing box office smash were - more often than not - one and the same thing.
on March 24, 2004
Even people who haven't seen "Deliverance" are at least familiar with several aspects of the film...banjos, backwoods, hillbillies and wild river rapids are usually the first images people conjure up. But there is so much more to this exquisite thriller.
The story and premise are simple and well-known. Four "city boys" head to deep Appalachia to do battle with a river that will soon be dammed over. The untamed wilderness these average Atlanta businessmen plunge themselves into is everything they hoped for...and everything they feared. The four men, played with intense reality and emotion by Burt Reynolds, Ned Beatty, John Voight and Ronnie Cox, portray dramatically different characters. The vital question, to be answered by these men over the course of the story, is who has the combination of inner and outer strength to survive their little 3-day excursion?
The trip that unfolds is unforgettable. Man is reduced to his primal level, with survival becoming his only focus. Every side of human emotion and expression is captured in this 48-hour journey, which wouldn't have been possible without the extraordinary physical and mental effort on the part of the actors, director and film crew.
In this highly visual film, emotions and physical acting speak louder than any words. A taut, dramatic thriller, "Deliverance" merits several viewings. Watch it again and again (as I did) and you'll recognize the beauty and brilliance in a film where morning bird song blends seamlessly with man's mortal cry.
Life and death fight for a balance in this John Boorman masterpiece.