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 November 20, 2003
Deliverance is an incredibly powerful movie. That it has lived so long in the cultural memory is testament to both its power and its beauty. While by no means a cult film, it does maintain a certain hold over people, especially city folk who are naturally mistrustful of the rural environment anyway.
The story revolves around a bunch of city boys who set out to do some white-water canoeing down a river that's about to be flooded forever, and the difficulties they encounter along the way, with the natural environment and with their fellow men.
It is easy to become swept up in the controversy surrounding certain parts of this movie, but to concentrate on the more unforgettable scenes does an injustice to the vision of the writer and director as a whole. Together they create a reality that is at once both intimately familiar and yet frighteningly alien. If you go into this movie expecting 2 hours of edge-of-your-seat thrills, you'll be sadly disappointed. The movie takes its time to build a feeling of eeriness and beauty and for long periods of time all that happens is the guys battling the river, beautiful shots of the Georgia wilderness and a wonderful reminder of how great "The Great Outdoors" can be.
The movie really begins to find its voice when the freakish mountain people are encountered. The people and the culture are so outside of the experience of an average urban, amazon.com user that it becomes gripping, terrifying and ultimately essential viewing.
The movie raises some brilliant and disturbing questions about morality, trust and what it means to be a human being.
If you haven't seen Deliverance, I highly recommend you waste no time and go see it now, if you like visually stunning, challenging and thought provoking-movies. And yes, the "dueling banjos" scene is simply one of the best 5 minutes of movie history ever!
Also available is a 25th Anniversary version of this film. My complaint with this is that it includes a "The Making of" feature which, while being informative and fascinating (did you know the actors lived on the river and did all their own stunts and no-one would insure it?) on the VHS edition it is included at the start of the tape - before the film!!! I recommend you fast-forward through this and come back to it later, as it contains some spoiler you'd rather not see. Also included is the original theatrical trailer, which is of great historical interest. Watch it and you will see what I mean!
on March 3, 2003
Four men head out from Atlanta into the Appalachian highlands, to take a last look at the Cahulawassee River, under the apparent leadership of Lewis (Reynolds). They encounter local "hill" folk in a region above the town of Aintry, thinking at first that the power company might already have evacuated it in preparation for a hydroelectric project. Bobby (Beatty) makes fun of the gentleman who finally services their vehicle, while Drew (Cox) engages a local banjo-picking youth in one of the signatures of the film, a round of "Duelling Banjos" where Drew eventually becomes "lost". After finding some drivers to take the two vehicles downstream, with Lewis promising to take Bobby home in time for NFL football after two nights on the river, they set out in two canoes, with Ed (Voight) packing a hunting bow that Lewis observes is "losing 'glass". Bobby must deal with Lewis's spirited style, while Ed cautions Drew against approaching anything too wild too rapidly. Camping for the night, all looks well, as indeed it does into the next day, though Ed is unable to draw down successfully on an actual animal with his bow. With partners switched, Bobby and Ed have their now-legendary encounter with two mischievous locals, broken only by the "center shot" that Lewis takes with the bow when the other canoe catches up. The stakes appear to have been raised, as the boys need to cover up and move on, having voted to put everything behind them and below several hundred feet of water, when the dam is finished. But haste makes waste, and with the continued sense that they are being stalked by the remaining mountain man, they hurry along down the gorge, eventually wrecking their wooden canoe and losing Drew in the boiling rapids, to a cause that is not apparently clear. While Bobby nurses Lewis, who has a critical injury, Ed attempts to climb out of the gorge, spending the 2nd night on the rocks. At daybreak he finally scores with his bow, only to find that the three men now have even more to smooth over. At Aintry, the two vehicles have been dutifully left, only the Sherriff (Dickey) needs to figure out just what went on. The ragged crew must linger in town; Lewis and Ed in the hospital and Bobby among the local folk he had brushed aside on the first day. Still, Bobby's prayer for "deliverance" near the fateful mossy log proves effective, and the two vehicles return to the smug, air-conditioned suburban life, with the Sherriff advising against such an act in the future, so that "the town can die peacefully".
It is interesting to observe the fates of each man, on the basis of what one would expect from ordinary justice, given their initial attitudes towards the river and the people. Lewis, full of respect and backcountry skill, is nonetheless taken near death's door, while Drew, whose harmony with the surroundings is a rich one, is shown no mercy. Ed's approach, including the bearing of arms, proves ultimately to save his life, but Bobby, who basically has no respect at all for the land, walks away with nary a scrape.
Thus has topography and hydrography been placed under another set of outsiders' feet, and thus has it responded. Preparation is but one factor, it would appear, in a successful weekend, up in the woods. When accessing the inaccessible, there is little that can be taken for granted. I can watch this film again and again, even with knowledge of the outcome, for it seems to teach a new lesson at every turn. The woods are hardly a simple matter, despite the preconceptions one has, prior to one's entry into them.
on November 8, 2002
Deliverance, the film, was based on the brilliant and insightful novel of the same name by James Dickey. Both are superb examples of their respective craft. While people with a casual knowledge of the film only remember the "squeal like a pig" sequence, there is so much more to it than that. Deliverance is quintessentially a "guy's film", but not in the usual sense of the word (inane and predictable Hollywood "thrillers", filled with explosions and car chases). Deliverance focuses on the need of men who have reached their middle years (as many of us have), for one last great adventure. Unfortunately, this one goes very wrong.
There are many things which set this film apart from the typical Hollywood movie of today. First, it makes some subtle and intelligent observations on male attitudes toward power. Burt Reynolds "mighty hunter" character is much admired by the other men, but ironically, is seriously injured and does little for much of the movie. In contrast, Ned Beatty's character is sexually assaulted (through no fault of his own) and afterwards is looked down upon by the other characters ("Blaming the victim"). Second, as other reviewers have pointed out, the villains are truly frightening. Why? Because unlike today's blow-dried film bad guys, they seem real: not actors, but exactly the kind of low-lifes you might stumble into in a remote wilderness area, not just in the South, but anywhere!
Third, the film has a strong sense of realism through its use of ambiguity. For example, when they kill the second mountain man: Was he one of their attackers or just some unfortunate guy out hunting? When one of the characters falls overboard and disappears: was he shot by the bad guys, or did he just pass out and fall overboard? These are the kinds of uncertainties which would occur in an extreme situation such as this ("the fog of war").The film respects the intelligence of the viewer enough to not provide easy answers to these questions.
I could go on, but suffice it to say that Deliverance is an intelligent, subtle, and finely crafted film, truly one of the great ones. I highly recommend it.
on October 19, 2001
When it comes to fictional survival stories, few can approach the sheer grueling brutality of DELIVERANCE. Brilliantly adapted by James Dickey from his best-selling book and superbly directed by John Boorman (POINT BLANK, HOPE AND GLORY), this is a tremendous endeavor. So much so that horror writer Stephen King and Boorman's fellow director Stanley Kubrick both expressed a tremendous admiration of it.
As pretty much everyone knows, DELIVERANCE focuses on four Atlanta businessmen (Burt Reynolds, Jon Voight, Ned Beatty, Ronny Cox) who decide to take a canoe trip down the Cahulawassee River in the Appalachian Mountains of northern Georgia before it is dammed up into a lake. It is apparent, however, that the local folk don't take kindly to these "city boys" messing around in their woods. And when Voight and Beatty are sexually assaulted at gunpoint by a pair of sadistic rednecks (Bill McKinney, Herbert "Cowboy" Coward), in the infamous "SQUEAL!!" segment, what began as a canoe trip explodes into a nightmare.
Much is made, and justifiably so, not only of the "SQUEAL" scene but also of the "Dueling Banjos" part, between Cox and a retarted mountain kid. But DELIVERANCE has much more to offer besides these moments. Like A CLOCKWORK ORANGE and STRAW DOGS, it offers a hard-hitting and unflinching look at Man's penchant for violent and (arguably) abhorrent behavior. The four leads are extremely good in their roles, and McKinney and Coward make for two of the more frightening and vicious villains in screen history. Dickey appears in the film's final reel as a local sheriff who, as he puts it would "kinda like to see this town die peaceful."
Shot totally on location, and featuring ominous cinematography from the legendary Vilmos Zsigmond, DELIVERANCE is a great and frightening piece--arguably a modern gothic horror film, certainly a great action film with an undercurrent as sinister as the Cahulawassee River itself. It is not to be missed,
on August 28, 1999
In 1972, the English filmmaker John Boorman ("Excalibur", "Hope and Glory") accomplished one of the most contusing and acclaimed dramas of Hollywood history.Based on James Dickey's original best-selling novel, Deliverance is a vigorous picture about the human cruelty directed with mastery by Boorman, who substituted the original profesional chosen to make the film, Sam Peckinpah. Dickey also worked on the movie (and he even has a small part as a sheriff), helping to give the correct contours and maintaining the fidelity to his shocking book: four friends, common and hard-working citizens, decide to spend the weekend challenging the dangerous and fast rapidses of the "last unpolluted river in Georgia".Worst is what waits for them in the margins. Starting from the moment in which they arrive in the mountains, the confusion with the eccentric hillbillies gets announced and explodes later into mutilation, murder and rape. After Voight and Beatty are assaulted by two hillbillies, comes one of the most distressing cinematography's sequences ,Ned Beatty under the power and strength of a sick local's inhabitant .Then, Reynolds kills one of the homosexuals, and the other scapes, this is the point in which Boorman sets inside that hostile and natural enviroment a type of "primitive" tribunal. This is the most frightening moment: what should they do?hide the body, kill the other mountain man who fled, and pretend that nothing happened, deceiving the authorities, or go to the police, admit the crime and take the risk that resides in a possible trial? the dignity and the heart of each character will be tested!Burt Reynolds gives an outstanding performance and, perhaps, the best of his career, as a man obsessed by adventure who will do to everything to survive,but the most astonishing and brave acting belongs to Ned Beatty,terrific as a poor overweight salesman who receives the most impressive punishment by the hillbillies. Agile, violent, and extremely dramatic, this thriller is powerful and courageous.